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Arthur Plettner 

Isa Mcllwraith 


MUSIC OF GERMANY, 1685-1750 






VOL. I. 











I. THE BACH FAMILY FROM 1550-1626 i 


III. HEINRICH BACH AND His SONS ... ... ... ... 27 



VI. JOHANN CHRISTOPH BACH'S SONS ... ... ... ... 131 



BACH, 1685 TO 1707. 


1685 TO 1703 ... ... ... ... ... ..J ... 181 




ON BACH, 1704-5 256 





TATAS, &c. 392 








THE work of which this volume is an instalment bears 
for its title nothing but the name of the man whose life 
and labours form its main subject. And since it is beyond 
dispute that no individual character can have full and 
complete justice done to it unless all the circumstances 
are laid bare under which it was developed, and worked out 
its results, this principle must above all be applicable in 
the case of a man who forms, as it were, the focal point 
towards which all the music of Germany has tended during 
the last three centuries, and in which all its different lines 
converged to start afresh in a new period, and to diverge 
towards new results. To describe all these can indeed 
hardly be my present task, all the less because the time is 
not yet come for saying the last word as to the profound 
influence exercised by Bach, more particularly on the music 
of the nineteenth century. 

My task is rather to disentangle, in the period that pre- 
ceded him, the threads which united in that centre, and to 
trace the reasons why it should have been in Bach that they 
converged, and in none other; for such a course could not 
be avoided by a writer whose purpose it was to give even an 
approximate idea of the grandeur of his personality as an 
artist. The deeper and more ramified the roots by which he 
clung to the soil of German life and nature, the wider was 
the extent of ground to be dug over in order to lay them 
bare. Hence the reader will find in this book much which 
he would hardly seek in a mere " life " of Sebastian Bach, 
but which is nevertheless intimately and inseparably con- 
nected with him. And thus, I think, its title will be justified 
by its contents. 

No attempt at such a comprehensive picture has as yet 
been made ; but there is no lack of books which have for 
their subject-matter the outward events of Bach's life or 
certain aspects of his artistic labours. Among these, the 



most important is the Necrology, which was published four 
years only after the master's death in L. Chr. Mizler's 
Musikalische Bibliothek, Vol. IV., Part L, pages 158 to 176 
(Leipzig, 1754). Its statements would be entitled to our 
belief, if only from its having first seen the light at a time 
when Bach's memory was still fresh, and in the city where 
he had lived and laboured for twenty-seven years ; and this 
is confirmed by the fact that it was compiled by Karl 
Philipp Emanuel Bach, the composer's second son, and by 
Johann Friederich Agricola, one of the most distinguished 
of his pupils. It is obvious that they combined for this 
work, because Agricola had enjoyed the benefit of Sebastian 
Bach's instructions at a time when his son had quitted the 
paternal roof, and so had personal knowledge of some cir- 
cumstances which Philipp Emanuel Bach had learned only 
indirectly. Agricola also contributed to Jakob Adlung's 
Musica Mechanica Organcedi (Berlin, 1768) a number of 
valuable notes regarding his illustrious teacher. The 
simple picture of Bach's life and artistic powers which the 
Necrology contains, with a summary review of his compo- 
sitions, has been transcribed by almost all the later biogra- 
phers so called. Thus, in the first place, Johann Adam 
Hiller, in his Lebensbeschreibungen beruhmter Musikge- 
lehrten und Tonkunstler neuerer Zeit, Part I., pages 9 to 29 
(Leipzig, 1784). He was followed by Ernst Ludwig Gerber, 
Historisch-Biographisches Lexicon der Tonkunstler, Part L, 
col. 86 (Leipzig, 1790), who does not seem to have known 
whence Hiller had derived his information. Still, even in 
Gerber, we here and in other places come upon original 
observations worthy of remark, founded on statements sup- 
plied by his father, who had been Sebastian Bach's pupil. 

A curious production in the way of a biography occurs 
in Hirsching, Historisch-literarisches Handbuch beruhmter 
und denkwiirdiger Personen, welche im achtzehnte Jahr- 
hundert gestorben sind, Vol. L, page 77 (Leipzig, 1794). 
Here the dates given in the Necrology are repeated approxi- 
mately, and with several errors; then follows a sketch of 
Bach's characteristics which is derived from Proben aus 
Schubarts Aesthetik der Tonkunst, published by Schubart's 


son in the Deutschen Monatsschrift (Berlin, 1793). This 
fantastic work is of course not to be relied on not even 
where some facts seem to shine through of which the 
inaccuracy is not immediately obvious. C. A. Siebigke, 
Museum beriihmter Tonkunstler, pages 3 to 30 (Breslau, 
1801), repeats Gerber and Hiller that is to say, the Necro- 
logy, but adds a few remarks on Bach's style. J. Ch. W. 
Kiihnau, Die blinden Tonkunstler (Berlin, 1810), and J. E. 
Groszer, Lebensbeschreibung des Kapellmeister Johann 
Sebastian Bach (Breslau, 1834), have not even any inde- 
pendent musical judgment; and none of these, excepting 
Gerber in a few passages, can be said to have made any 
researches of their own. 

The first advance that was made in the literature of the 
subject after Mizler's Necrology is marked by J. N. Forkel's 
book, Ueber Johann Sebastian Bach's Leben, Kunst und 
Kunstwerke Fur patriotische Verehrer echter musikalis- 
cher Kunst (Leipzig, 1802; a new edition in 1855). Forkel, 
the most learned musician of Germany of his time, and a 
passionate admirer of Sebastian Bach, had been personally 
acquainted with his two eldest sons : he thus became pos- 
sessed of valuable materials, which he worked up into his 
book. With regard to the facts of Bach's life, even he has 
little to add to the contents of the Necrology, though he 
enlarges on his characteristics as an organ and clavier 
player, as a composer, teacher, and father of a family. Still, 
valuable as Forkel's book is as an authority, and little as 
we can reproach him with mere fanciful inventions, we must 
use him with caution. For instance, he does not sufficiently 
distinguish the actual statements and judgments of Bach's 
sons from his own opinions, but, on the contrary, has 
worked them up together into a continuous narrative, so that 
it is often hard to discover the beginning and the end of 
those passages which give the book its special value. For- 
kel's own judgment, even as regards Bach, is often strangely 
narrow. Frequently, no doubt, independent inquiry leads 
us to a result which coincides so exactly with Forkel's state- 
ment as to leave no doubt as to the value of the source 
whence he obtained his fact; but presently, again, we are 


startled by some evident inaccuracy, or the discovery that, 
under the most favourable interpretation, he has misunder- 
stood his authority. Finally, it must be borne in mind that 
Bach's sons may themselves have made mistakes. For 
these reasons, though we must necessarily refer to this 
work at every step, for due security we must accept none 
of its assertions without testing them. 

On the occasion of the centenary of Bach's death, July 28, 
1850, two memorial works appeared. First, Johann Sebas- 
tian Bach's Lebensbild Eine Denkschrift, &c., aus Thiirin- 
gen, seinem Vaterlande; Vom Pfarrer Dr. J. K. Schauer 
(Jena, 1850). In this is collected all that was then known, 
briefly, and for the most part correctly ; it is conscientious 
in giving the authorities, and includes a careful list of the 
published works of the composer, but betrays no profound 
artistic intelligence. The second centenary writer, C. L. 
Hilgenfeldt, goes more deeply into his subject, Johann Se- 
bastian Bach's Leben, Wirken und Werke Ein Beitrag 
zur Kunstgeschichte des achtzehnten Jahrhunderts (Leipzig, 
1850). The book is written with earnest purpose, and is so 
far a small advance on Forkel that the author has carefully 
collected a number of dates and of criticisms on Bach from 
the literature of the last century, and has worked them in 
with his picture. He too first gave us some detailed infor- 
mation as to Bach's ancestors, and a general review of 
Bach's compositions, which deserves credit at any rate on 
the score of industry. Historic breadth of view and scientific 
method we must not indeed expect to find ; his artistic judg- 
ments and his historical purview, like the work generally, 
are but shallow and amateurish. However, as the author 
himself is modest as to his powers, it would be unfair to 
reproach him farther. 

Since then a singular literary effort has emanated from 
C. H. Bitter, Johann Sebastian Bach (two vols., Berlin, 
1865). The author has been swept away by the historic 
current of our time, and attempts to wield the paraphernalia 
of science, but without being in any way capable of doing 
so. However, we must be grateful to him for disinterring 
certain archives previously unknown, for such documents, 

PfcEFACg. V 

like books, have their destinies. Unfortunately they are very 
incorrectly reproduced. The author's own attempts at his- 
torical inferences and other reflections could have been omitted 
with advantage to the author and his book. He has done 
better in a later work, Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach und 
Wilhelm Friedemann Bach und deren Briider (two vols., 
Berlin, 1868). Here, no doubt, the task was an easier one. 

From this sketch it is evident that the only authorities 
that can be really considered available are the Necrology, 
Forkel, and parts of Gerber. To procure new material, next 
to an exact comparison of all the writers contemporary with 
Bach, a careful search was necessary through all the archives 
in which any trace of Bach's life as a citizen and official 
personage might occur. Then it was requisite to produce 
as clear a picture as possible, not only of the general condi- 
tions of the time when he lived, but of the various places 
where he resided, with his surroundings and duties ; to trace 
all the indications of his wider activity, and follow up the 
history of those persons with whom he seemed to have had 
any connection. It is quite certain that Bach rarely wrote 
letters, most rarely of all to private persons ; hence we can 
reckon very little on this most important source of biogra- 
phical facts. It has been all the more gratifying to light 
upon a few valuable discoveries of this kind. An inestimable 
document is a private letter, full of details, addressed from 
Leipzig, October 28, 1730, to the friend of his youth, Georg 
Erdmann, in Dantzig, which I have been enabled to bring 
to light from among the state archives at Moscow, by the 
help of my excellent friend, Herr O. von Riesemann of 
Reval. Erdmann died, October 4, 1736, as " Hofrath " to 
the Russian Empire and Resident at Dantzig. He left a 
daughter under age, and her education, with the arrange- 
ment of his somewhat disordered affairs, was undertaken by 
his sister-in-law, a certain Fraulein von Jannewitz. This 
lady writes, on November 9, 1736 : " Some quite old letters, 
and papers also, which my late brother-in-law had laid by in 
a room apart, even before the bombardment, I laid, as soon 
as I remembered them, in a coffer, and sealed it twice with 
his seal, which was also used for the other sealing." She 

VI iPfcEFACfe. 

herself wished to quit Dantzig, and this property was a 
burden to her. But among the " quite old letters " was 
this one from Sebastian Bach, which consequently travelled 
away to Moscow with Erdmann's official papers, and slum- 
bered there nearly a century and a half, awaiting its present 

Though such autographs as these, of which the discovery 
often turns upon a mere happy accident, are extremely rare, 
we are better off as regards the autographs of Bach's compo- 
sitions. It may indeed be boldly asserted that the greater 
number of them still exist, and that a considerable portion 
are accessible to all. Nor are they only of inestimable value 
to musicians by reason of their contents; under skilful 
treatment they yield a mass of biographical data which is 
sometimes really astonishing ; and this source would flow 
still more readily if the date at which they were written 
were not usually wanting. Here a field is opened for 
expert criticism to establish some sort of chronology, in 
which its utmost skill may be exercised ; for, since Bach's 
manuscripts extend over a period of more than forty years, it 
would be a by no means impossible task to assign to each 
period the handwriting that belongs to it by certain distin- 
guishing marks, though in its main features it is curiously 
constant. The differences in the pa;ier would assist in this, 
and a third factor would be the investigation of the text for 
his vocal compositions. The style of the poetry used for 
these by Bach is for the most part too undefined for us to 
draw any inferences from it, though sometimes it is possible; 
but it is a fertile source of information to trace out the 
writers and the publication of these texts. It was the 
custom of the time to have the words of the hymns sung in 
churches printed and distributed to the congregation, that 
they might follow them, and this contributes to baffle us and 
to conceal, at any rate, the first printing of the hymns. The 
various handling which the manuscripts frequently offer to 
our investigation I shall not, of course, any farther refer to 
in this place. 

The publications of the Bach-Gesellschaft (Bach Society of 
Germany) have been of immense use in my labours; they 


now extend through twenty-seven yearly series, and are 
based on the best authorities, and give evidence of the 
greatest critical care, especially wherever Herr W. Rust has 
set his experienced hand. F. C. Griepenkerl and F. A. 
Roitzsch have edited, with no less learning and care, the 
collected edition of Bach's instrumental works, published by 
C. F. Peters of Leipzig ; and A. Dorffel supplemented it in 
1867 by an accurate thematic catalogue. Nevertheless, for 
the reasons given above, I felt it my duty to examine 
every autograph by Bach that I could discover. This, by 
degrees, I was able to accomplish with all that are preserved 
in public libraries, particularly in the Royal Library at 
Berlin. It is, of course, always more difficult to obtain 
access to private collections ; however in most cases I have 
met with a friendly and liberal help. No doubt there are 
still several autographs which, lying perdu in the hands of 
unknown owners, for the present defy research and, in 
saying this, I refer particularly to England. When shall 
we recover from thence that which is our own so far, at any 
rate, as regards the matter of its contents ? 

The mention of Bach's compositions has led us away from 
the biographical to the artistic and historical as part of this 
work. From the writings of those authors who have already 
endeavoured to treat of Bach more or less comprehensively 
Winterfeld, in Vol. III. of his Evangelisches Kirchengesang ; 
Mosewius, in his discussion of Bach's Passion Music 
according to St. Matthew, and others I could only use a 
few details here and there, for it is very clear that they either 
under-estimated, or wholly ignored, precisely that very 
impetus which, gathering force during a whole century, 
culminated triumphantly in Sebastian Bach. Indeed, it is 
always better to see with our own eyes than through those 
of others. Besides, all that the seventeenth century produced 
in the way of musical forms stands in such close and inti- 
mate connection with Bach's art that a somewhat exacter 
study of it seemed indispensable. In this, no less than in 
considering Bach's own compositions, I have, of course, 
attributed the greatest weight to the element of form, in 
proportion as an exact scientific estimate of this is more 

viii PREFACE. 

possible than of the ideal element. Still, I could not regard 
myself as justified in altogether neglecting this, and so 
leaving undone a part of my task the production, namely, 
of a comprehensive picture of Sebastian Bach and his art. 
The musical writer must always find himself here in a pecu- 
liarly difficult position. He may lay bare the foundations of a 
certain form, point out the modifications which it has under- 
gone in special cases under the subjective treatment of the 
artist, but still he will not have conveyed to the reader an essen- 
tially musical conception, which is the feeling and purport of 
the piece. In vocal music the words contribute to bridge 
over the gulf; in instrumental music he has the option of 
offering to the reader a mere anatomy, or of attempting in a 
few words to call up the spirit which alone can give it life 
and soul. I have selected the latter method, and must trust 
to the chance that what I find and feel in this or that com- 
position may be also felt by others. I shall not, I think, be 
accused of having treated this part of my work in too subjec- 
tive a manner. A homogeneous strain of feeling lies at the 
base of all Bach's compositions, permeating them so strongly 
that it must be evident to any one who really studies the 

Every epoch, every distinct musical form, has its own 
character and sentiment ; nay, every kind of instrument is 
limited to its own sphere of feeling. Up to this point we 
walk securely, but beyond this the ground is shifting, the 
eye is dazzled by the play of hues which at every instant are 
born and die none but a poet can find language to convey 
the effect. Here, however, I must expressly protect myself 
against the misconception that in order thoroughly to enjoy 
a work of art it must be possible to transcribe its sentiment 
in words. Every instrumental composition like any other 
work of art must produce its effect by its own means and 
by its own nature. I have only attempted to fulfil what I 
conceived to be an author's duty. 

In order to give a broad historical view of Bach as an 
artist, and of his works, it was necessary first to give due 
consideration to a circumstance which cannot be a matter 
of indifference. The hero of this biography was descended 


from a family who had already been musicians for more 
than a century ; Bach himself, and his sons, laid stress on 
this long artistic pedigree, and we owe our knowledge of it 
to the MS. genealogy of the Bach family, which is preserved 
in the Royal Library at Berlin. It was obtained from the 
property left by G. Polchau, professor of music at Hamburg, 
who had it from that left by Forkel, to whom it had been 
given by Philipp Emanuel Bach. It contains fifty-three 
numbers, in each of which the parentage and birth and death 
days of a male member of the Bach family are recorded ; 
the first were written by Sebastian Bach himself, according 
to his son's statement. By whom the work was continued 
we are not told ; still it may be guessed with some degree 
of certainty. In the first place it is demonstrable that it 
was drawn up in the last months of the year 1735, since 
Sebastian's son Johann Christian, who was born September 
5, 1735, is mentioned by name under No. 18. Philipp 
Emanuel was at that time a student at Frankfort-on-the- 
Oder. Besides this, it is clear from certain details that, 
with the exception of course of the first number, the 
genealogy cannot have been drawn up under the eye of 
Sebastian Bach. The date of his eldest brother's death is 
wanting, which he must certainly have known ; and, what is 
more, in the notice of Sebastian himself a false date is 
given (see on this subject Appendix A, No. 9), which relates 
to an occurrence so important that Sebastian himself could 
hardly have made a mistake in the year. Now this error is 
repeated in the Necrology, and we know that the Necrology 
was in great part drawn up by Philipp Emanuel Bach. 
The inference is obvious. When Philipp Emanuel subse- 
quently sent a copy of the genealogy to Forkel, he added 
a variety of explanatory notes to extend and improve it ; 
but copies had already become distributed among the Bach 
family, particularly in the line which in the second half 
of the seventeenth century had settled in Franconia. A 
copy of it was in the possession of Johann Lorenz Bach, 
a cousin of Philipp Emanuel ; and his great-grandson, 
Johann Georg Wilhelm Ferrich, minister of Seidmannsdorf, 
near Coburg, to whom it descended in due course, allowed 


it to be published in the Allgemeine Musikalische Zeitung, 
Vol. XLV., Nos. 30 and 31. He erroneously supposed that 
Lorenz Bach himself had drawn it up, but a comparison 
makes it evident that it is only a copy. The trifles which 
are wanting in the Ferrich genealogy are partly unintentional 
oversights, and partly wholly unimportant ; some, too, are 
easily accounted for by the illegibility of the original MS. 
On the other hand it has a series of additions, such as the 
dates of Sebastian Bach's appointment to be " court com- 
poser " to the King of Poland (1736), and of his death, with 
fuller notices of the Bachs of Schweinfurt and Ohrdruf. In 
No. 18, also, the date " 1735 " is added later, apparently 
because the copyist observed that this date was essential for 
determining and verifying several others, while at first he 
had omitted it as not coinciding with the date at which he 
made his transcript. At any rate these additions must 
have been made before 1773, the year of Lorenz Bach's 
death, since it is not mentioned ; nay, more, we know that 
the MS. from which Lorenz Bach copied was not the 
original that had belonged to Philipp Emanuel Bach, but 
only a copy from that. This copy also has been preserved, 
though only in a fragment, beginning with No. 25 ; this is 
now in the possession of Fraulein Emmert, of Schweinfurt, 
who is connected with a lateral branch of the Franconian 
Bachs, and who was so obliging as to send it for my 
inspection. From No. 41 in that copy it is plain that it 
was made before 1743, and might therefore have had some 
more information than Philipp Emanuel's. Still more in- 
teresting is it to note that in No. 39, where Johann Elias 
Bach is the subject of the notice, the words "p. t. Cantor in 
Schweinfurth " are omitted, and instead of them we find 
" Born at Schweinfurth, February 12, 1705, at three in the 
morning. Studios Theol." This Johann Elias Bach was 
studying theology in Leipzig during the summer-time of 
1759, as is proved by the register of the university, and 
during that time became personally acquainted with Sebas- 
tian Bach. From the exactitude of the date of his birth, as 
given in the Emmert genealogy, as well as from the insertion 
between Nos. 39 and 40 of his younger brother, Johann 


Heinrich Bach who, it is expressly stated, died very young, 
and who therefore cannot have been known to a very 
extensive circle we may conclude with certainty that these 
details proceed from some member of the Franconian Bach 
family; from a near relative of Elias Bach, if not from 
himself. Other additions, again, indicate that it was written 
under the direct supervision of Sebastian Bach ; not indeed 
the Emmert genealogy, which, as has been said, begins with 
No. 25, but the additions to the Ferrich genealogy, which is 
well-preserved. We inferred, from the omission in the 
original genealogy of the dates of birth and death of 
Sebastian's eldest brother, that it cannot have been drawn 
up under his eye ; but the Ferrich genealogy has both (No. 
22). Now if we suppose that this was transcribed from the 
copy, it seems to me the probability is as great as possible 
that Elias Bach was the writer of that copy, and in further 
corroboration of this view we have the minute details as to 
his father, Valentin Bach (No. 26) ; thus the Emmert 
genealogy would have been written between 1739 and 1743, 
and subsequently, after it had received further additions, 
the Ferrich copy must have been made from it. This copy 
has one trifling omission in No. 43, but it is unimportant, 
and may have been either intentional or accidental. 

Besides these genealogies, the Bachs also preserved the 
family pedigree. One such family tree was in the possession 
of Philipp Emanuel Bach, who gave it, with the genealogy, 
to Forkel ; it has disappeared, but a trace of its existence 
remains in the Beschreibung der Konigl. Ungarischen 
Hauptstadt Pressburg, a work published in that city in 1784, 
by Job. Mathias Korabinsky; in this there is a little pedigree 
with numbered shields and a list appended, containing the 
names of sixty-four male Bachs ; and on page no the 
author remarks that it is the family tree of the famous 
" Herr Capellmeister Bach, of Hamburg." Its insertion in 
this work is due to the fact that the Bachs were supposed 
to be a Hungarian family. Another pedigree was in the 
possession of Sebastian Bach's pupil, Johann Christian 
Kittel, Organist of Erfurt ; it was published, with ex- 
planatory notes, by Christian Friedrich Mich^elis, in the 


Allgemeinen Musik Zeitung, Vol. XXV., No. 12 : where it 
is now is unknown. Fraulein Emmert, of Schweinfurt, has 
a genuine original pedigree ; it is very carefully drawn and 
written, and splendidly coloured. From its general plan it 
must have been drawn up between 1750 and 1760; some 
supplementary notes have been added by another hand, and 
in different ink. A still living descendant of the family, 
Herr Bach, of Eisenach, has exerted himself to have it 
carried down to the present time. 

All these materials have been a valuable contribution to 
the history of Sebastian Bach's ancestors. The next thing 
was to reinvestigate all the authorities from which they 
had been derived, to test the data they afforded and there 
was much to rectify and to exhaust them further; in short, 
to acquire new materials : for if this biography is to be of 
any value it must be by working up the more important 
personages to the most vivid individuality possible, and by 
giving them for a background as definite a sketch as may be 
of the times and conditions in which they lived: I have done 
my best to extract what the materials at hand would afford. 
In this part of my labours I am especially indebted to my 
friend, now already dead, Professor Th. Irmisch, late of 
Sondershausen, who was at all times ready to assist me 
with his exact knowledge of the history of manners in 
Thuringia ; and I must acknowedge this all the more 
emphatically because such assistance is less conspicuous in 
prominent matters than in various suggestions and small 
information of which the value is hardly perceptible, 
excepting to the person who has benefited by them. The 
history of Bach's ancestors has involved me in some places 
in a considerable number of genealogical details, and while 
I beg the reader not to regard them as mere useless details, 
I do so with a lurking hope that the request may be un- 
necessary. It is evident that, in composing a " picture," 
a bare enumeration of the unusually numerous members 
of the Bach family is insufficient ; the reader must see them, 
live with them in the deepest strata of their evolution, and 
if any should think this dry and uninteresting, it must be 
remembered that though the beauty of a tree lies in its 


trunk, branches, leaves, and fruit, the condition of this 
growth resides in strong and healthy roots. The genea- 
logical matter is therefore worked up into the picture on a 
definite plan. 

As regards the general arrangement of the work, it has 
been my endeavour to produce a coherent picture, equally 
elaborated throughout ; all that did not directly contribute 
to this had to be eliminated. This gave rise to two 
appendices: the one for strictly critical discussions, and 
the other for quotations of some extent from authorities, 
and for certain explanations which the plan I had laid down 
excluded from the body of the book. But it need not there- 
fore be thought arbitrary when some short critical views are 
introduced into the context, for there are matters which are 
so closely interwoven with the tissue of a biographical or 
historical narrative that it is impossible to avoid discussing 
them without neglecting at the same time a number of 
things which it is highly desirable, if not absolutely indispen- 
sable, to mention. Then, again, is it by mere accident that 
in so many questions connected with Bach's life we find our- 
selves thrown back on circumstantial evidence ? It seems 
to me that a reflection of the man's own nature falls across 
our investigations of his quiet, modest, and reserved life, 
absorbed in the contemplation of the ideal of his art. Much 
in my picture is taken directly from the authorities them- 
selves ; this, however, could hardly ever be done without 
remodelling and smoothing it, so far as to make it homo- 
geneous with the rest. Documentary precision had in these 
cases to be sacrificed to the requirements of style ; however, 
the characteristics of an antique and original writer need 
not be thereby effaced. A single unusual expression is often 
enough to give its tone, nay, even an antiquated form of 
spelling; it rests with the author to use his tact, and hit 
the precise limits. The only exception I have made is in 
the case of documents by Bach himself, 1 or such as refer 
to his words. When printed works of any rarity are quoted, 

1 For these the curious reader must be referred to the original German of 
this work (Leipzig: Breitkopf und Hartel). 


their titles, with the dates, are given in full, in the foot-notes 
to each chapter; these also contain references to authorities, 
and such short observations as were unsuited to find a place 
in an appendix, and which, to have any value, were necessary 
adjuncts to the text. 

The letters B.-G. refer to the publications of the Bach- 
Gesellschaft ; P. to the Peters Edition. 2 

The book did not all appear at once in its original German 
dress. The first volume was published in the spring of 1873, 
the second in the winter of 1879-80. In the interval I was 
enabled to obtain some fresh materials for the subjects 
treated in the first volume, as well as to correct certain 
errors that had crept in. All that I then added as a supple- 
ment to the second volume is, in this English edition, 
worked up into the text. On the other hand, it appeared 
possible and desirable to effect an abridgment in one or two 
places. With regard even to the second volume, though so 
short a time has elapsed since it came out, I have learnt the 
truth of the proverb, dies diem docet; and the reader who 
realises the extent of the materials dealt with, and the 
purely accidental way in which a new discovery is often 
made, will not be surprised at this. Of course, in this 
edition, I have availed myself for the second volume also 
of all the additional information I have acquired. In its 
English form, therefore, it may be regarded, not merely as a 
translation, but as a revised and improved edition, and I 
send it forth with a sincere desire that it may contribute 
over an ever-widening circle to the knowledge and compre- 
hension of one of the grandest spirits of any time or nation. 


2 The arrangement of this edition is exceedingly confused, there being two 
different sets of references, one in use abroad, and one for the corresponding 
English edition, published by Augener and Co. The former, the old method 
of arrangement, is referred to by the words "Serie" and "Cahier" (as, for 
instance, ' Ser. V., Cah. I." or " S. V., C. I."), and the latter method by the 
simple number in brackets. In almost every case both references will be 


A FEW words of explanation seem desirable on one or two 
JL\ points connected with the translation of this book. 

In the first place as to the word Clavier, which has been 
left untranslated because, at different dates, it has not had 
precisely the same meaning. It is a general term for all 
instruments of the pianoforte kind, such as clavichord, 
harpsichord, spinet, or pianoforte ; in its other meaning of 
the keyboard of an organ it is of course rendered by Manual. 

Christian names have not been altered into their common 
English forms, excepting the familiar ones of royal per- 
sonages. German titles of musical officials also remain 
untranslated, the most important being Kapellmeister, the 
official conductor of an orchestra with a fixed salary, as, for 
instance, the conductor of the opera ; and Concertmeister, the 
leader of the first violins, when that also is an official post. 

For the explanation of technical terms the reader is 
referred to Stainer and Barrett's " Dictionary of Musical 
Terms," or to Grove's "Dictionary of Music and Musicians "; 
for that of the German terminology of the organ to " The 
Organ : its History and Construction," by Rimbault and 

In rendering the texts of cantatas, &c., rhyme has 
occasionally been sacrificed to sense and rhythm, as these 
seemed essential to explain the motive and raison d'etre of 
the music. When the words are given in conjunction with 
their musical setting, they have been left untranslated, 
except in cases where the meaning has an important bearing 
on the music, or on the subject in hand. Quotations have 
been made from translations published in England with the 
music, where such existed. Texts from the Bible are given 
in the Bible words. 

The German edition of this work is supplied with copious 
references to the archives and parish registers of German 


towns. 1 These have not, for the most part, been copied for 
the English reader, since any one desiring to consult such 
recondite authorities will no doubt study the original work. 
Here and there the authority for important facts has been 
given, and every reference to a book is reproduced. 

A list is given of those works of which copies are to be 
found in the Britisli Museum. 

1 Those of Sondershausen, Eisenach, Arnstadt, Weimar, Erfurt, Hamburg, 
Muhlhuusen, and many others. 





THE family of which Johann Sebastian Bach was a 
descendant was purely and thoroughly German, and 
can be traced to its home in Thuringia even before the time 
of the Reformation. The same constancy which led its 
members, throughout the seventeenth and during part of 
the eighteenth centuries, to the pursuit of music, kept it 
settled in one place of residence for two centuries and a 
half, multiplying and ramifying, and appearing at length as 
an essential element in the popular characteristics of the 
place. It clung with no less tenacity to certain Christian 
names, and, by a singular coincidence, the first of the family 
concerning whom we have been able to procure any informa- 
tion bore the name which was commonest among all that 
occur, and which was owned also by our great master. 

This earliest representative is Hans Bach of Grafenrode, 
a village lying about two miles south-west of Arnstadt. In 
the beginning of the sixteenth century Grafenrode was subject 
to the Counts of Schwarzburg, but apparently it belonged 
to the princely Counts of Henneberg, and was held by the 
Count of Schwarzburg only under a mortgage. The great 
lords of Thuringia at that time often found themselves in need 
of money, and would pawn villages or whole districts like 
mere household chattels. Hans Bach, whom we must 
picture to ourselves as a mere simple peasant, appears to 
have laboured with his fellow-villagers among whom was 
one named Abendroth in the neighbouringmines of Ilmenau, 


of which the management was at that time taken possession 
of by Erfurt. Well-to-do citizens of Erfurt took up a tem- 
porary residence, no doubt, for this purpose in Ilmenau, and 
one of these may have been Hans Schuler whether this 
Hans Schuler was or was not identical with Johannes 
Schiller, a tetrach of the council of Erfurt in the years 
1502-3 and 1506. At any rate this Schuler was the cause 
of an action being brought against Bach on what ground is 
unknown before the spiritual court of the archbishopric of 
Mainz, and he was taken into custody with the above-named 
Abendroth. Not only did Erfurt belong to the diocese of 
Mainz, but the Archbishop had long had property of his 
own in the city, and constantly aimed at increasing his 
influence there. The prisoners endeavoured to obtain their 
freedom through the mediation of Giinther dem Bremer, 
at that time Count of Schwarzburg, who seems, however, 
to have interceded for his subjects without any particular 
success. A letter has been preserved which he wrote, in 
February, 1509, after many vain efforts, to Canon Sommering, 
in Erfurt, declaring that he would have the matter decided 
according to the strictest form of law, in his own supreme 
court, if Bach and Abendroth were not set at liberty, and 
this letter is the authority for our narrative of the transac- 
tion. 1 The name of Bach is to be found among the inhabi- 
tants of Grafenrode throughout the sixteenth and seven- 
teenth centuries, and in the year 1676 one Johannes Bach 
was diaconus in Ilmenau itself. 2 

Now, quitting Arnstadt and going a good mile to the 
north-east, we find ourselves in the village of Rockhausen. 
Here dwelt in the second half of the sixteenth century 
Wolf Bach, a peasant of considerable wealth. When he 
died he left the life-interest of his entire property to his 
wife Anna, by whom he had eleven children. In the 

1 See Appendix, B. No. I. 

* Archives at Sondershausen. One Bernhard Bach, schoolmaster in 
Schleusingen, was one of those who signed the Concordienbuch t.*., the 
volume containing the laws and tenets of the Reformed Church of Luther, 
before 1580 (Concordia e Joh. Muelleri manuscripto edita a Phillipo Muellero. 
Lips, et Jenae, 1705, p. 889). This place is beyond the district in which the 
Bachs dwelt. 


year 1624 she was " a woman of great age," and desired to 
divide the property among her surviving children. We hear 
of a farm, four good fields and thirty-two smaller ones, valued 
altogether at 925 florins, a very considerable estate at that 
time ; at any rate the most considerable of the place, and 
this in itself would indicate a long settlement there. The 
children of whom three sons are named, Nikol, Martin, and 
Erhart, and one married daughter were tolerably advanced 
in life. Erhart had been for some years away from home and 
was already past fifty, and Nikol in the year 1625 married for 
the third time. He, even before the division of his father's 
estate, had a handsome property, and it is quite certain that 
he was the only representative of the family remaining in 
Rockhausen. In consequence of his second marriage he was 
involved in all sorts of disputes over money matters ; a state- 
ment drawn up in his own hand on this occasion has been 
preserved, from which it would appear that he was not 
unfamiliar with the use of the pen. By the first decade of 
the eighteenth century there would seem to have been no 
member of the Bach family left in Rockhausen. 

Not far from Rockhausen, in a westerly direction, lies 
Molsdorf, where also a family of Bachs, with numerous 
branches, had its residence throughout the seventeenth 
century. The earliest and most important of the parish 
registers was destroyed during the Thirty Years' War; those 
that remain go back only to the year 1644. According to 
them the eldest of the Bach family living there his name 
again was Hans was born in 1606. But one Andreas Bach, 
whose widow died March 21, 1650, must certainly have gone 
back to the former century. Ernst and Georg Bach may 
have been his sons ; the latter was born in 1624. Above 
twenty members of the Molsdorf family are mentioned within 
a period of scarcely seventy years ; the men bearing the 
names of Johann, Andreas, Georg, Ernst, Hemrich, Christian, 
Jakob, and Paul, all of which, excepting the last, were con- 
stantly repeated in the line whence Sebastian Bach descended, 
while the female names varied much. Other authorities also 
mention one Nikol Bach of Molsdorf, who entered the Swedish 
army, and who was buried June 23, 1646, at Arnstadt, having 

B 2 


" been stabbed in a drunken riot on grounds of his own pro- 

Also, we can hardly be mistaken in supposing that Johann 
Bach, " musician to General Vrangel," was a native of this 
place, a man famous as an " ingenious musician," but of 
whom we only know that he was already dead in 1655, leaving 
a daughter. 8 He, then, was the first musician of the Molsdorf 
line. The above-mentioned Georg Bach had by his wife 
Maria (May 23, 1655) a son Jakob, who became a corporal in 
a regiment of cuirassiers under the Elector of Saxony, and 
was the father of a long line. This branch quitted Molsdorf 
at the beginning of the eighteenth century, to settle farther 
north at Bindersleben, near Erfurt, where it still exists, after 
having produced several admirable musicians, of whom 
Johann Christoph (1782-1846) seems to have been the 
most remarkable ; he, though a simple farmer, enjoyed a 
great reputation in his time as organist and composer in 

For a third time we must turn to the south-west, where 
we shall find, near Gotha, the home of Sebastian Bach's 
direct ancestry. The exact connection between this branch 
and those before mentioned is not ascertainable; but it is in 
the highest degree improbable that there should be no con- 
nection whatever between two families of the same name, 
having, too, many Christian names in common, and dwelling 
near to each other within a comparatively small circuit. 
Moreover, we must fix the date of the first common ancestor 
in the middle of the fifteenth century, since in the sixteenth 
the main stem had already thrown off vigorous branches in 
various directions. Even in Wechmar the ultimate goal of 
our wanderings the Bachs were well settled so early as 1550. 
The oldest representative, who also bears the name of Hans, 
figures on the Monday before St. Bartholomew's Day in 1561 
as one of the guardians of the municipality (Gemeindevormund- 
schaft.)* Such an office required a man of ripe age, so we 
may refer his birth to about the year 1520. Veit Bach, who 

8 Marriage register of Arnstadt. 

4 According to the records of the Municipal Acts preserved at Wechmar. 


is spoken of by Sebastian Bach himself as the forefather of 
the family, may be regarded as the son of Hans, and may 
have been born between 1550 and 1560 ; apparently he was 
not the only one, as will appear from what follows. 

He took his Christian name from St. Vitus, the patron 
saint of the church at Wechmar, 5 thus pointing to an intimate 
connection of some duration with the affairs of the place. 
He learnt the trade of a baker, quitted his native place, as 
his forefather Erhart had quitted Rockhausen, and settled 
in some place in Hungary. 6 It is well known that the 
Lutheran religion met with the earliest acceptance in the 
Electorate of Saxony, to which, at the beginning of the 
Reformation, Gotha and the neighbourhood belonged ; and 
in the same way it spread and blossomed rapidly in Hungary 
under the Emperors Ferdinand I. and Maximilian II. The 
reaction set in under Rudolph II. (1576-1612) ; the Jesuits 
were recalled, and oppressed the Lutherans with increasing 
success. Veit did not wait for the events of 1597, when the 
influence of the Jesuits became paramount by one of their 
order being made Provost of Thurocz. " He journeyed from 
thence," as we are told by Sebastian Bach, " after he had 
converted his property into money, so far as was possible, 
and returned to Germany," and, as we may add, to his native 
village in Thuringia, where he found safety for himself and 
his creed. Here he seems to have extended his trade as 
baker, but certainly not for very long, since by the end of the 
sixteenth and beginning of the seventeenth centuries the bake- 
houses of Wechmar were in other hands. The notice written 
by Sebastian Bach describes Veit not properly as a baker but as 
a miller ; still these two trades were often combined. 7 Being 
a true Thuringian he loved and practised instrumental music. 
" He has his greatest pleasure," says his great descendant, 

4 Bruckner, Kirchen- und Schulenstaat im Herzogthum Gotha. Gotha, 1760. 

6 There is no foundation for stating that it was in Presburg. This tradition 
probably originated with Korabinsky. 

7 The suggestion that the trade of a baker was invented for him, only on 
account of his name (Backer-Bach), is disproved by the circumstance that the 
vowel in the name was pronounced long, " Baach ", and even frequently written 
so in the seventeenth century. 


" in a small cithara 8 (Cythringen) t which he even takes into 
the mill with him, and plays on it while the mill works. 
They must have sounded sweetly together! He must, at 
any rate, have learnt time in this way. And this was, as it 
were, the beginning of music among his descendants." 
However, the art which Veit Bach pursued for pleasure was 
already followed as a profession by a contemporary member 
of his family, possibly his own brother. Veit died March 8, 
1619, and was buried that same day. He probably had 
several children, for the large number of male and female 
descendants of the Wechmar line can scarcely be all traced 
back to the sons of whom the genealogy speaks. This names 
two, or more exactly one, since of the other the existence 
only is mentioned, while it is silent as to his name. The 
one named was of course called Hans, and was the great- 
grandfather of Sebastian Bach. We may very properly 
suppose that he was born at Wechmar about 1580, since 
Veit seems not to have married till after his return from his 
sojourn in Hungary. He showed a taste for music, so his 
father decided on letting him become a " player " (Spielmanri) 
by profession, and placed him at Gotha to learn of the town- 
musician (Stadtpfeifer) in that place. He also was a Bach, 
by name Caspar, and may have been a younger brother, or 
at any rate a near relation of Veit's. He took Hans to live 
with him in the tower of the old Guildhall, his official resi- 
dence. The sounds of bustle and business came up from 
the stalls which occupied the whole of the market-place on 
the ground floor, and from the gallery above he and his 
assistants must have piped out the chorale at certain hours, 
according to long usage. 9 His wife's name was Katharina, 
and of his children we learn that Melchior was already a 
grown-up man in 1624, tnat a daughter, Maria, was born 
February 20, 1617, and another son, Nikolaus, December 6, 
i6i9. 10 After this he moved to Arnstadt, where he died, the 

The old cithara was a guitar-like instrument, distinct from the modern 
German zither. The word " Cythringen " is a diminutive, 

Appendix A, No. i. 

10 Register of St. Augustine's Church in Gotha. 


first representative of the family in that place; his wife 
followed him, July 15, 165 1. 11 

Hans, " after serving his years of apprenticeship," 
returned to the paternal village, and took to wife Anna 
Schmied, the daughter of the innkeeper there. As we very 
frequently find in those times that the musicians followed 
some trade besides the profession of music, so Hans Bach 
commonly practised his craft of carpet-weaving. 12 Still 
music was his special calling, as is proved by his being 
called a Spielmann in the parish register. This led to 
his travelling all about Thuringia ; he was often ordered 
" to Gotha, Arnstadt, Erfurt, Eisenach, Schmalkalden, and 
Suhl, to assist in the town-music of those places." There 
his fiddle sounded merrily ; his head was brimful of fun, and 
he soon became a most popular personage. It would be 
difficult otherwise to account for his attaining the honour 
of twice having his portrait taken. Philipp Emanuel Bach 
possessed both pictures in his collection of family portraits : 
one was a copper-plate engraving, of the year 1617, the 
other a woodcut ; in this he was shown playing the violin, 
with a big bell on his left shoulder. On the left side was 
written a rhyme to this effect : 

Here, you see, fiddling, stands Hans Bach ; 
To hear him play would make you laugh : 
He plays, you must know, in a way of his own, 
And wears a fine beard, by which he is known. 13 

and under the verse was a scutcheon with a fool's cap. 
We shall see presently how this gay temper was transmitted 
to one of his children. 

11 The register of deaths at Arnstadt states that she was eighty-two and a 
half years old. This does not perfectly agree with the former events cited ; 
there is probably some clerical error. 

12 The genealogy says that he first learnt the baker's trade, and then devoted 
himself entirely to music. But a very trustworthy authority is a funeral sermon 
on Heinrich Bach, Hans Bach's son (Arnstadt, 1692), in which Hans is called 
a musician and carpet-maker of Wechmar. 

18 Hier siehst du geigen Hansen Bachen, 
Wenn du es horst, so mustu lachen. 
Er geigt gleichwohl nach seiner Art 
Und tragt einen hubschen Hans Bachens Bart. 


Hans did not live to a great age ; he died December 26, 
1626, in the year of the plague, which snatched away other 
members of his family. When, nine years after, this pesti- 
lence raged still more furiously in the village, so that of 
the 800 inhabitants 503 died (191 in the month of September 
alone), his widow followed (September 18, 1635). Of his 
children only those three will occupy our attention in whom 
the musical talent of their father reappeared ; but that there 
must have been others which were not remembered in the 
later genealogies, because they remained simple peasants, is 
quite certain. Without pausing over the various females 
of whose existence traces still exist, we must devote a few 
words to the other sons. It certainly is not easy often not 
possible to find our way with any certainty through the 
mixed crowd which the parish registers reveal to us ; I can 
only give so much information as was attainable. The 
authority above mentioned only speaks of Johann, the eldest 
of the three sons who were musicians ; but besides him we 
come across six other individuals, who may be supposed to 
have been about the same age, and to have been sons of 
Hans Bach, or of his brothers, or of other contemporary 
relatives in the same place. First, there is one Hans Bach, 
who is often spoken of as junior in contradistinction to Hans 
Bach senior, and who thus must have been his son. He 
cannot be identical with Johann Bach, since he attended the 
Lord's Supper with his wife so early as 1621, while Johann 
was not married till 1635 J hence, I consider him to have 
been an elder brother, probably the first child of old Hans 
Bach, who, according to the simple manners of the time, 
married very early. 

The son died, still young, November 6, 1636 ; his widow, 
Dorothea, survived till May 30, 1678, to the age of seventy- 
eight. Of the sons of this marriage nothing is known. 

Then there is yet another Hans Bach who seems to have 
been somewhat younger, and who married June 17, 1634, 
a maiden named Martha. She brought him sons, Abraham, 
born March 29, 1645 ; Caspar, born March 9, 1648, who was 
subsequently a shepherd at Wechmar ; and a third son, not 
named, born March 27, 1656, "who at his birth was scarcely 


a span long." The third Hans was also a son of the 
"player.' 14 Thus there were three brothers of the same 
name, and it is characteristic of old Hans, with the bell, 
that he should have taken pleasure in this triumvirate of 

Then there was Heinrich Bach, of whom we only learn 
that two sons were born to him, in 1633 and 1635, both of 
whom died January 28, 1638. The youngest of the musical 
trio bore the same name ; if he were the brother of the 
former Heinrich, the jolly fiddler must have had three sons 
named Hans and two named Heinrich. 

Next, Georg Bach, born in 1617 ; his first wife, Magdalena, 
was born in 1619, and died August 23, 1669. He married 
for the second time October 21, 1670; his bride's name was 
Anna, and she died in childbirth, February 29, 1672. But 
these folks could not live unmarried : he wedded for the third 
time November 19, 1672, and died March 22, 1691 ; his wife, 
Barbara, followed April 18, 1698. No sons of his are named, 
nor do we know whose son he himself was. One Bastian 
(or Sebastian) finally is mentioned, of whose existence we 
know only by the date of his death, September 3, 1631. He 
may have lived to be an old man, and he is the only one of 
the family who bore the name of Sebastian before the great 

As has been said, the genealogy mentions another son 
of Veit Bach's without giving his name, nor can he be 
certainly identified by any other means ; still we learn 
from the parish register that there was a contemporary 
of Hans Bach, the elder "player," who may have been 
his brother. His name was Lips, and he died October 10, 
1620 ; a son of the same name fell a victim to the plague, 
September 21, 1626. The sons who continued this family 
would therefore be wanting in the register. The genealogy 
speaks of three, who were sent to Italy by the reigning 
Count of Schwarzburg-Arnstadt for the advancement of 
their musical education, and of these Jonas, the youngest, 
seems to have been blind and the subject of many strange 

u See Appendix A, No. a. 


stories. 16 On the other hand, it can be proved that a son of 
the nameless brother of Hans Bach bore the name of Wendel, 
was born in 1619, and subsequently settled at Wolfs- 
behringen, a village north-west of Gotha ; he seems to have 
been a farmer, and died December 18, 1682. His son Jakob, 
probably the only son (born at Wolfsbehringen in 1655), filled 
the office of Cantor at Steinbach, and after 1694 at Ruhla, 
where he died in I7i8. 16 He was the first master of Johann 
Theodorich Romhild, 17 who was afterwards Capellmeister at 
Merseburg, and a composer of some eminence. It is from 
him, if the evidence before us is to be trusted, that most of 
the musical members of this branch were descended, and the 
most remarkable of them undoubtedly was. This was Johann 
Ludwig, the son of the Cantor Jakob Bach, who was born in 
the year 1677 ; in 1708 he was " Court " Cantor at Meiningen; 
but three years after, when he married, he was already capell- 
director, and he died in I74I. 18 Since Sebastian Bach esta- 
blished a personal intercourse with him from Weimar it seems 
more appropriate to postpone the discussion of his character- 
istics as an artist. The great musical talents of this man 
survived in his two sons, Samuel Anton (1713-1781) and 
Gottlieb Friedrich (1714-1785), as well as in his grandson 
Johann Philipp, Gottlieb's son. All three were at different 
times organists at the Ducal Court, and the last-named 
belonged to our own time, for he did not die till 1846, in the 
ninety-fifth year of his age, and after the death of the last 
grandson of the great Sebastian, December 22, 1845. 19 Be- 
sides its musical gifts this branch of the family possessed a 
talent for painting, which, in Sebastian's line, showed itself 
only in one son of Philipp Emanuel's ; and in him it seems 
to have been first brought out by the Meiningen cousins, for 
they had much intercourse with his paternal home, and 

15 Appendix A, No. 3. 

18 Appendix A, No. 4. 

17 E. L. Gerber, Historisch-Biographisches Lexicon der Tonkiinstler. 
Leipzig, 1792. Part II., col. 309. B.M. 

M I depend for these details on information kindly given me by Herr Hofrath 
Bruckner, as well as on the register at Meiningen. 

19 Wilhelm, son of Johann Christoph Friedrich, Conductor at Biickeburg. 
Bitter gives the date. 


Philipp Emanuel could write in the genealogy, " the son of the 
Capellmeister of Meiningen still dwells there as organist and 
painter to the Court ; his son is associated with him in both 
capacities. Father and son are excellent portrait painters ; 
the latter visited me last summer and painted me, and 
succeeded admirably." 

A brother of Joh. Ludwig's, Nikolaus Ephraim, the third 
son of the Cantor Jakob Bach of Ruhla, had already 
educated himself regularly as a painter. In 1704 he placed 
himself under the tuition of a certain Georg Kessler at 
Weimar, who held the office of Court-painter to Duke Johann 
Ernst, younger brother of the reigning Duke Wilhelm Ernst. 
In 1708 he entered the service of the Abbess Elisabeth 
Ernestine Antonia, at Gandersheim, sister to the reigning 
Duke of Saxe-Meiningen, and he probably obtained this 
appointment, which he continued to hold till his death 
(August 12, 1760), through the intervention of his brother 
Johann Ludwig. His master, Kessler, testifies of him, in a 
document drawn up May 5, 1709, that he had with him 
learnt " something admirable in the art of painting." But 
what he had to do in the service of the Abbess was by no 
means confined to this art alone. We soon learn that 
Nikolaus Ephraim was also a practised musician. On 
November 30, 1713, he was appointed " lackey " ; however, 
in his appointment it is specially stated : " We hereby give 
over to him the supervision of our pictures and gallery of 
statues . . . withal, he shall be of use in music and in 
incidental compositions ; in respect of which we allow him, 
by our favour, a yearly salary, from Michaelmas last past, of 
twenty thalers, and from the twenty-second of October last 
past a weekly allowance of twenty groschen for food, besides 
the usual two liveries, travelling coats, and winter-stockings." 
Subsequently he became cupbearer, on May 15, 1719, 
organist, and "chief butler," and had also to instruct the 
"abbey servants" in music and painting; and finally, after 
the year 1724, he had the control of the Abbess's accounts. 
It was, no doubt, customary at small Courts, where means 
were but scanty, to employ one and the same official in 
various functions. But such a variety of services as must 


have been fulfilled by Nikolaus Ephraim can rarely have 
been loaded on to the shoulders of a single individual ; it is 
plain he was a factotum. 20 Georg Michael Bach (1703-1771), 
the teacher of the eighth class in the Lutheran Town 
College at Halle, was also probably a son of the Cantor of 
Ruhla ; his son again, Johann Christian (1743-1814), was 
music-teacher there, and was called for short " der Clavier 
Bach." He was connected with Friedemann Bach, the 
eldest son of Sebastian, when the latter was Organist at the 
Liebfrauenkirche at Halle, or perhaps indeed when he was 
there no longer. For it was from him that he acquired that 
" Clavier-Biichlein vor Wilhelm Friedemann Bach" ("A 
little harpsichord-book for W. F. B."), which the great 
Sebastian wrote at Cothen for his favourite child, in great 
part with his own hand, and to which we shall presently 
devote our special attention. 21 

Finally, we have to mention Stephan Bach, who, according 
to the genealogy, must have been connected with this line 
without its being stated in what way. He was Cantor and 
Succentor on the Blasius Foundation at Brunswick, an office 
which he assumed in 1690, and held till his death in 1717. 
His first wife was Dorothea Schulze, and therefore Andreas 
Heinrich Schulze, afterwards the Organist of St. Lambert's 
Church at Hildesheim, whose singing-master Stephan 
Bach was, must be regarded as a relative of his wife's. 22 

20 The document presented to Nik. Eph. Bach by Kessler is almost perfect, 
and is set forth on two sheets of parchment, of which the back was subse- 
quently used for portraits in pastel. They are at present in the possession of 
Herr Brackebusch, Cantor of Gandersheim. The rest I have derived from 
documents in the archives of Wolfenbiittel, and the church registers of Ganders- 
heim. The house, which tradition declares to have been built for Nik. Eph. 
Bach, as Organist and Intendant, still exists at Gandersheim. It was at one 
time inhabited by the father of Ludwig Spohr ; the accomplished landscape- 
gardener Tuch now lives in it. 

21 After the death of Johann Christian this book was acquired by Herr 
Kotschau, the musical director at Schulpforte, and at his death it passed into 
the possession of Herr Krug, Judge of Appeals in Naumburg, to whom I am 
indebted for this information. According to the church register of Meiningen 
a son of Johann Bach, " Court lackey and hautbois player," was christened 
August 13, 1699, and named Johann Christian Carl. This Johann was, 
perhaps, a fourth son of Jakob Bach. 

22 J. G. Walther, Musicalisches Lexicon. Leipzig, 1732. B.M. 


His eldest son was named Johann Albrecht (born 1703), and 
was the child of his second marriage. Anything else that 
might be related of him would be merely a history of the 
sickness and general misery which this family always had 
to contend with. These we shall meet with often enough 
when dealing with the direct ancestors of Sebastian Bach, 
and we will therefore be silent about them here. 23 

We have been able to discover the roots of the Bach 
family in various places in Thuringia, and have found them 
everywhere to be mere village peasants and farmers ; so 
truly did Sebastian Bach spring from the very core and 
marrow of the German people. And as, before the Thirty 
Years' War, the whole population of Germany was well-to-do, 
peaceful comfort was not lacking to the peasant farmer of 
Thuringia ; to industry and capability he added piety. The 
lists of communicants of Wechmar from 1618 to 1623 give 
evidence, by their frequent mention of Bachs male and 
female, old and young that their profession of Protestant- 
ism was to them a living and heartfelt religion. It must, 
however, be added, that while Wolf Bach, of Rockhausen, 
was a freeholder in unusually easy circumstances, a harder 
lot seems to have fallen to his relatives in Wechmar. In 
the villages and their neighbourhood there were a number of 
nobles' estates, and all who depended on them as peasants 
(or as villeins, as we might say), had to bear a no small 
burden both in service and in kind ; and all the more so 
because the owners of these estates the vassals of the 
Count of Gleichen had frequently to supply a considerable 
force of armed men, which, of course, did not benefit those 
who were left behind. 

The death of Hans Bach (der Spielmann), in 1626, brings 
us just to the beginning of the period when Thuringia began 
to suffer and bleed under the fearful scourge of war. From the 
year 1623, when the troops first were marched across it, every 
conceivable horror was wreaked by the wild hordes of war on 

23 Register of the Blasius Foundation, Brunswick, and archives of Wolfen- 
biittel. Griepenkerl, editor of Bach's instrumental works, attributes the series 
of admirable organists who have lived at Brunswick to the influence of Stephan 
Bach, as I am kindly informed by Dr. Schiller. 


this fair spot of German soil, at shorter and shorter intervals. 
The villages were plundered and burnt, the fields laid waste, 
the men killed, the women ill-treated even the churches were 
not spared. Then came the fearful plagues of 1626 and 1635. 
Those who could save their lives out of all this misery fled, 
for shelter at least, by preference into the towns, or hid them- 
selves in the forests, or like Nikol and Johann Bach of Mols- 
dorf, entered the army, no alternative remaining. Thus the 
Bachs of Wechmarwere dispersed ; those who remained died 
out by degrees, until, at the end of the last century, a man 
of the name of Ernst Christian Bach returned there, and 
there ended his days (September 29, 1822) as cantor and 
schoolmaster. 24 Of the three musicians even, the sons of 
Hans Bach, not one remained long in his native village. 
The time in which they grew up and lived was a time of 
terror and bloodshed, a time which deteriorated the gentlest 
and best, and wore out the strongest, and which must have 
exerted a profound influence on the natures of the three 
brothers, according to the natural bent and the special 
destiny of each. 



JOHANN BACH, the eldest of these three sons, was born at 
Wechmar, November 26, 1604. " Now when his father, 
Hans Bach," says the genealogy, "travelled to the afore- 
named places (see p. 7) and often took him with him, once 
on a time the old town-piper of Suhl, named Hoffmann, 
persuaded him to give him his son to be taught by him, 
which also he did ; and he dwelt there five years as his 
apprentice, and two years as his assistant." After this 
he seems to have led a roving life in the midst of the ever- 
increasing turmoil of war. The genealogy states that he 
went from Suhl to Schweinfurt, where he became Organist. 
But, in 1628, he already appears in Wechmar as " player " 
(Spielmann), and again in the year 1634 ; but he can hardly 

'* As I am kindly informed by Dr. Koch. 


have been settled there, or he would certainly have esta- 
blished a household of his own. The way in which he 
finally did so leads us to infer a sojourn in Suhl, where 
he probably for a time officiated for old Hoffmann, who died 
in the thirtieth year of the century. For the esprit de corps 
which held the guilds together, and prevailed even in music, 
made a young musician choose his bride by preference from 
among the daughters of the members of his guild, and thus 
frequently marry into the office held by his father-in-law. 
Thus Johann Bach, on July 6, 1635, was married to 
Barbara Hoffmann, 25 " daughter of his dear master," and 
wedded her in his native village. In the same year he was 
appointed director of the town-musicians at Erfurt. 26 This 
town, at that time still a free city, could already tell many 
a tale of the fortunes of war. After the battle of Breitenfeld, 
in 1631, Gustavus Adolphus had withdrawn thither on 
September 22, and four days after had left it in the hands of 
a garrison, who immediately began a pillage and maltreat- 
ment of the inhabitants, which, though directed against the 
Catholics only, soon became general. The houses were 
broken into and robbed even at night ; not a watchman 
dared show himself in the street, and public insecurity rose 
to the utmost pitch. 27 Subsequently, indeed, some order was 
restored, but the heavy taxes and the wild misrule of the 
soldiery demoralised the citizens more and more, and not 
least, of course, the guild of town-pipers, or more properly 
town-musicians, whose principal function it was to perform 
the necessary music at public or private entertainments, and 
who consequently were the constant witnesses of the 
aggravated coarseness of manners from which such occur- 
rences were never free. Shortly before Johann Bach 
assumed his post, February 27, 1635, it nac * happened 
that a citizen, named Hans Rothlander, had taken a 
soldier into his house with him out of the street. He 

25 Parish register of Wechmar. 

26 Raths Musikant, Stadt Musikant, and Stadt Pfeiffer are synonymous, or 
nearly so. 

87 Falckenstein, Civitatis Erfurtensis HistoriaCritica Et Diplomatica. Erfurt< 
1740. II., p. 703. B.M. 


" persuaded the town-musicians," as we are told by a manu- 
script Chronicle of Erfurt, "to play to him to amuse him, 
because the master was his godfather a thing forbidden to 
be done. When they were all tolerably drunk the soldier, 
who was a cornet from Jena, stretched himself on the bench 
and fell asleep. Rothlander's wife roused him, intending to 
dance with him. He started from his sleep, crying out, 
' What, is the enemy upon us ? ' snatched up the brass 
candlestick, and gave the man nearest to him three wounds 
in the head and a gash in the cheek, thus extinguishing the 
light. Then he seized his sword, and, stabbing backwards, 
pierced another through and through ; he clutched a musician 
from Schmalkalden, who was a superior player, and stuck 
him through the body so that he died twelve hours after, and 
was buried in the churchyard of the Kaufmanns-Kirche."' 
It is possible that the master of the guild perished in this 
scene of butchery, and that Bach took his place. 

In the autumn of this year the Peace of Prague seems to 
have brought better times to the city ; the Swedish garrison 
was withdrawn and an universal peace festival was solemnly 
held. But in the following year the Imperialists, the Elector 
of Saxony, and the Swedes already had their eye again on 
this important centre for military operations. Bach and his 
people were ordered up into the towers of the citadel, "there 
to keep watch and ward with due gravity and zeal for the 
common weal of the city." Casks filled with brushwood and 
straw were placed on the exposed places, and the guard was 
enjoined to set them on fire as soon as anything suspicious 
appeared ; that was to be the signal for the town-pipers to 
blow with all their might, so that they might wake all folks 
to seize their weapons. 29 Notwithstanding, the Swedish Gene- 
ral Baner took the town in December after a short siege, and 
the Swedes remained in possession of it till the Treaty of 
Westphalia, passing their time in skirmishes and surprises in 
the surrounding country. After their final expulsion in 1650, 
when the calm so earnestly longed for seemed to have beer 

18 See, too, Hartung, Hauser-Chronik der Stadt Erfurt, 1861, p. 162. 

19 Falckenstein, p. 716. 


restored, the town-council held a festival of peace and thanks- 
giving, lasting a week, and it was a worthy task for the guild 
of musicians to contribute their share. We are told that " the 
most beautiful concertos and splendid motetts by the most 
famous composers Praetorius, Scheidt, Schiitz, and Ham- 
merschmidt were performed in all the churches." Trumpets 
and drums rang out from all the watch and church towers, 
which were decorated with white banners and with branches; 
troops of children, with garlands n their heads and carrying 
palm-branches, went to the house of God with songs of praise. 
A stage was also erected out of doors and decorated with 
birch boughs, and there, besides an actus "What is brought 
by peace, and war? " was a performance with all manner of 
musical instruments by a considerable assembly, for every 
one sang in the chorale "of the citizens, now at last re- 
leased and breathing out thanksgiving, with trumpets and 
drums and joyful firing of guns between whiles." 81 

But the burden of war had pressed too heavily on the 
hapless community; the town was deeply in debt, the 
richest of its patricians were impoverished, and famine and 
bitter want, beyond relief, prevailed among the humbler ranks. 
Worst of all was the utter exhaustion of all intellectual and 
moral energy. The war itself had for the most part been 
carried on with a healthy national vigour ; the succeeding 
period found a degenerate and effete race. Instead of com- 
bining for determined labour they gave themselves up to 
thoughtless enjoyment, and, as the disorder of society in- 
creased, to a more and more reckless expenditure. At the 
same time the influence of an insubordinate populace rose 
in a very threatening way. Men of wisdom and insight were 
ill-used or expelled from the city, so that in the year 1663 a 
citizen could write that the city was now in such a lament- 
able plight " as no pen could describe, nor tongue of man 
express," and prophecy that Erfurt, like Jerusalem of old, 
could not escape destruction. 32 At last the Elector of Mainz, 

80 Or dramatic performance. 

81 Hundorph, Encomium Erffurtinum, 1651. 

82 Falckenstein, pp. 911, 915. 


in consequence of the suggestions of the municipal autho- 
rities, asserted his superior rights, and was supported by the 
Emperor. The fanatical obstinacy of the townspeople, who 
murdered a client of the Elector's and insulted the Empe- 
ror's herald, finally resulted in the forcible overthrow of the 
city, which, from 1664, lost its independence of the Electo- 
rate of Mainz. From that time began a gradual restoration 
of its wealth and well-being, and a re-establishment of order. 

Johann Bach spent the larger and r most important part of 
his life in Erfurt. The family he founded multiplied rapidly, 
and during a century they filled the office of town-musicians 
there so exclusively, that even in the latter half of the 
eighteenth century these were known by the name of " the 
Bachs," though, in point of fact, no man of that name existed 
among them. 83 Next to Arnstadt and Eisenach, Erfurt was 
one of the principal settlements of the extensive family of 
Bachs, whose remarkable feeling of clanship gave rise to 
their having certain home-centres, enabling them to work to a 
common end. In the briefly sketched outline of the history 
of the city during forty years, we may find also that of the 
life of the man whose official position brought him constantly 
into contact with the unfettered and excited spirit of the 
populace. Everything that was astir must have touched 
him on all sides, and it must have been a doubly difficult 
task to uphold morality, earnestness of purpose, and dignity 
in the whirlpool of passion amid which he stood in 
that void and empty turmoil where shouts of revelry and joy 
can only have served to stun the ear to the misery they 
covered. And the case was the same with all the members 
of his family who stood by his side, filling the same func- 
tions ; and they too had to sigh in sympathy with others 
under the general misery and poverty. 

Nor was the private life of Johann Bach unvisited by 
misfortune. His first wife gave birth to a dead child, and 
died herself immediately after. It was not long before he 
married a second wife, Hedwig Lammerhirt, one of a family 

88 Adlung, Anleitung zu der musikalischen Gelahrtheit. Erfurt, 1758, p. 689. 


which we shall presently meet with again. Death visited 
him repeatedly. In 1639 it snatched a son from his home, 
probably the first child of the second marriage, and 
other children followed in 1648 and 1653. Meanwhile, how- 
ever, he never lost the nature that stamped him as a true 
Bach. His old teacher and first father-in-law, Hoffmann, the 
town-musician of Suhl, was dead, leaving a son under age ; 
a year after the mother followed also, and the child was left 
an orphan. The brother-in-law came forward immediately, 
took the young Christoph Hoffmann to his own home, and 
finding that he took pleasure in music and had a talent for it, 
he instructed him diligently, and with such success that the 
youth soon attracted the attention of a wider circle. This, 
too, is a valuable piece of evidence towards an exact estimate 
of Bach's own merit and powers. His position, as leader of 
the musical body of so important a city, of itself points him 
out as a man of distinguished capacity, and the title of " an 
illustrious musician " was not denied him even by his con- 
temporaries. At that time his brother Christoph Bach, the 
grandfather of Sebastian, was in service at the Court of 
Weimar. This, if we may venture to piece out and com- 
bine the fragmentary information we possess, was the 
occasion for bringing out the gifted pupil at that place. 
Duke Wilhelm wished to retain him at once for his own band, 
and offered his teacher one hundred thalers for the instruc- 
tion he had given him. It speaks well again for Johann 
Bach and his household that Hoffmann would not consent to 
this ; he only agreed to appear in Weimar from time to time 
and to co-operate in musical performances ; but he remained 
faithful to his brother-in-law for six years as a pupil and for 
one year more as assistant, and from what we know seems 
to have trained himself to be an admirable musician. 84 When 
we are told that at Erfurt he made diligent progress in 
vocal as well as instrumental music, this chiefly refers only 
to that uncultivated and naturalistic singing which had to be 

84 J. L. Winter, Leichenpredigt auf Job. Christoph Hoffmann (funeral 
sermon), preached November 21, 1686. Schleusingen, Seb. Gobel. Hoffmann 
subsequently carried on a business as armourer in his native city, besides his 
music, as his father had done before him. 

C 2 


learnt as a part of the mechanical training of the musician, 
since in the "attendances" (Aufwartungen) 85 as they were 
called, the performance of songs was not unfrequently 
required. 86 But for this, such readiness in reading the notes 
and certainty of intonation were amply sufficient, as must 
follow, almost as a matter of course, on instrumental 

Johann Bach, as organist, was only connected with 
church music in a more indirect, though in a no less 
essential and important way; he was organist, it would seem, 
to the church known as the Prediger-Kirche, and there gave 
evidence of various excellence. The emolument attached to 
such an office was but small, particularly in his time, and 
the salary that was fixed was very often never paid. The 
organist and cantor were for the most part dependent on 
payments in kind, and often enough these even failed. From 
the year 1647, Bach had to demand the annual payment of 
a measure 37 of grain, and in 1669 he was forced to complain 
to the town-council that in twenty-two years it had but 
once been handed over to his family. 88 He died on 
May 13, 1673, in the sixty-ninth year of his age. 89 As town- 
musician and as organist he united in his own person both 
the branches from which, at a subsequent period, the music 
of Germany, in the hands of Sebastian Bach, developed its 
noblest blossoms instrumental music for secular purposes 

85 Aufwartungen, among the town-musicians, meant attendance at weddings or 
other solemnities, in order to make music. Jacobsson, Technolog. Worterbuch, 

86 This custom is expressly spoken of in the " Lustigen Cotala " (" Der 
wohlgeplagte, doch nicht verzagte, sondern iederzeit lustige Cotala, oder 
Musicus instrumentalis^ in einer anmuthigen Geschicht vorgestellet." Frey- 
berg, 1690. Reprint, 1713.) (The much tormented, still not dispirited, but at all 
times merry Cotala, set forth in a pleasant history.) The author of this work was, 
according to Adlung, no less a person than Joh. Kuhnau (Anleitung, p. 196). 
He says, p. 118: "The first day of the wedding all went with much credit, and 
I got no ill-praise for my singing, for I had with me the very sweetest songs and 
airs, as well as the very drollest, which were listened to with extraordinary 
amusement and pleasure by the most illustrious gentlemen and the most 
worshipful ladies." 

' Matter, equal to four bushels. 

58 Protocol of the Council of Erfurt, June 14, i66q. 

Parish register of the Kaufmanns-Kirche at Erfurt. 


and religious music. Though he took no direct part as 
cantor in vocal church music, even this derived its chief 
power of becoming what it did become under his great 
descendant, from the development of the art of organ-playing. 
His brothers and most of his children and successors pre- 
ferred to cultivate only one or the other of these two 
branches (i.e., secular and sacred) until Sebastian once more 
mastered the whole domain of music, though, indeed, the 
posts he held did not always warrant this combination. 
Through a long period of calamity Johann Bach was the 
head of the Bach family of musicians. He lived to see it 
spread and thrive, and strike deep root beyond Erfurt, in 
Arnstadt and Eisenach. Henceforth began a constant and 
busy intercourse between these three towns. Where one 
prospered he drew others after him, and by intermarriage 
and other family ties they further confirmed themselves in 
the feeling of a closely knit and patriarchal community of 

Johann Bach's eldest surviving son, Johann Christian, 
born August 40 2, 1640, studied and worked at first under 
the direction of his father, in the " music-union " of Erfurt, 
and he then quitted Erfurt for Eisenach, the first of his family 
who settled in that place. Here he married, within his 
guild, Anna Margaretha Schmidt, the daughter of the town- 
musician, August 28, 1665. 

The town-council of Erfurt were in no hurry to fill up 
his place he played the viola their heads were just then 
full of other matters. It was not till 1667 that his cousin 
Ambrosius was appointed. In the following year, however, 
he was again in Erfurt, where his wife presented him with a 
son, Johann Jakob, 41 who, as he grew up, rejoined his elder 
cousin, Ambrosius, the father of Sebastian, at Eisenach, 

40 Registers of the Kaufmanns-Kirche. These documents have been the chief 
source of the dates that concern the Erfurt branch of the Bachs, and all that 
are not noted as derived from other sources are taken from them. However, they 
give, not the day of birth, but that of baptism ; but, as a rule, the baptism took 
place within two days after birth, and I have adopted this as the basis of all my 

* According to the genealogy, 


where Ambrosius had meanwhile become town-musician, 
and who died there in 1692, aged 24.** He is called in the 
register Hausmanns-Gesell, or musician's assistant, Haus- 
mann being the term in general use at that time for a 
musician, a player on any instrument. 

A second son rose beyond this. Johann Christoph, born 
in 1673, became Cantor and Organist at Unter-Zimmern, a 
village north-east of Erfurt, where he married, in 1693, Anna 
Margaretha Konig, and in 1698 was appointed to the office 
of Cantor at Gehren, south of Arnstadt, where his name was 
already most honourably known through the worthy Michael 
Bach, then lately deceased, one of whose daughters after- 
wards became the first wife of Sebastian Bach. He was a 
cultivated man, had studied theology, and wrote a beautiful 
flowing hand. Nevertheless, he did little credit to his 
family. His character was quarrelsome, obstinate, and 
haughty, and he displayed it in a way highly disadvan- 
tageous to himself, even against his superiors ; this led to 
his being long under arrest, and even threatened with 
removal by the Consistory of Arnstadt. Much, however, that 
was due to him on the part of the authorities had been 
neglected. He died there in I727. 48 Johann Christian be- 
came director of the town-musicians in Erfurt after his 
father's death. He soon after lost his first wife, and then 
married a widow, Anna Dorothea Peter, June n, 1679, by 
whom he had a daughter, Anna Sophia, and a son, Johann 
Christian ; the latter was born in 1682, the year of his 
father's death. 44 

48 Parish register of Eisenach. 

Two of his sons lived in Sondershausen, and there kept up their connection 
with the main branch of the family, and, on the occasion of children being born, 
called upon their cousins of Erfurt and Miihlhausen to act as godfathers (vide 
the baptismal register of Trinity Church, March 15, 1719). The elder, Johann 
Samuel, born 1694, was in 1720 a schoolmaster at Gundersleben.and died there 
in that year. The second, Johann Christian, born 1696, also died young, 
according to the genealogy. A son, Johann Giinther, born 1703, was a good 
tenor-player, and in 1735 was teacher in the congregation of the Kaufmanns- 
Kirche at Erfurt. These dates of birth are from the pedigree belonging to 
Fraulein Emmert, of Schweinfurt. 

44 According to the genealogy. 


The place now vacant was filled by Johann Aegidius, the 
second surviving son of Johann Bach, born February 9, 1645. 
He had already taken his place in the musical guild of the 
city, under the direction of his father, for in the autumn of 
1671 he had been appointed viola-player in the place of his 
cousin Ambrosius. He brought home a bride, June 9, 
1674, from Arnstadt, where, at that time, his uncle Heinrich 
was held in high esteem as organist : of him we shall soon 
speak more fully. But his wife, Susanna Schmidt, was wife's 
sister to his brother Johann Christian, and her father must 
meanwhile have moved from Eisenach to Arnstadt. 45 
There is something very patriarchal in this incident of 
the younger brother marrying the sister of the elder 
brother's wife, and thus walking in this respect in all confi- 
dence in the path he had tried ; and similar cases will 
come before us again. On this occasion Aegidius figures 
as town-musician and organist ; he subsequently filled the 
office of Organist in the Church of St. Michael, and in 
this double capacity trod exactly in his father's footsteps. 
He died at an advanced age in ijij, 46 after marrying for the 
second time, August 24, 1684, Juditha Katharina Syring. 
Of his nine children, whose names could be given five sons 
and four daughters only the former have any interest for 
us; of these it would seem only two lived to manhood, 
Johann Bernhard and Johann Christoph. 47 The former, born 
November 23, 1676, filled the office of Organist to the 
Kaufmanns-Kirche at Erfurt, and was called from thence 
to fill the same post at Magdeburg. This promotion from 
out of the family circle, of itself indicates some special 
ability, which is confirmed by the fact that, in 1703, he was 
accepted as the successor of Johann Christoph Bach, a man 
of great mark, who will presently attract our particular 
attention, and who, next to Sebastian Bach, was the greatest 
musician of the family. Besides his labours as organist, he 

45 In the register of Eisenach he is called Christoph, in that of Arnstadt 
Christian Schmidt. But there is no doubt of their identity. 

46 According to the genealogy. 

47 The others were Johann Christoph, born April 2, 1675, who must have died 
in infancy ; Johann Caspar, June 7, 1678 ; and Johann Georg, January 6, 1680. 


also acted as private musician (Kammer-Musicus) in the 
band of Duke Johann Wilhelm of Sax-Eisenach, just as his 
cousin, Sebastian Bach, must have done at the same time, 
for a while, in Weimar. 48 Here, as was frequently the custom 
with organists under the same circumstances, he must have 
been cembalist. 49 That his merits were duly valued in 
Eisenach is proved by the fact that his annual revenue of 
sixty thalers which, though modest enough, was not exces- 
sively small for the circumstances of the place and time 
was in 1723 raised to a hundred thalers, and so in fact 
almost doubled. He was still receiving this sum in 1741, and 
seems to have had it continued to him undiminished till his 
death, June n, I749, 50 although the band was broken up in 
1741, in consequence of the ruling family of Eisenach having 
become extinct. Johann Bernhard Bach was not merely a 
skilled performer; he was also an esteemed composer. 
Four Suites for orchestra remain by him, a few small 
pieces for the clavier, and a short series of chorale 
arrangements. 61 Judging from these he must, as a composer 
for the organ, rank with the most able, though not the 
most original, of his time ; for he follows closely in the 
path of Johann Pachelbel, of whom I shall have occasion 
to say more in a later chapter. An arrangement of the 
chorale " Du Friedefiirst, Herr Jesu Christ " " Lord Jesu 
Christ, Thou Prince of Peace" in five partitas, is set in 
the mode of chorale-variations, then in universal use ; but 

41 According to Walther, who would have received the information from 
Bernhard Bach himself. 

49 This is expressly stated, for instance, of Vogler, Court Organist in 
Weimar, and a former pupil of Sebastian Bach's, in a document Pro Memoria 
Ernst Bach, November 21, 1755 (State archives of Weimar). 

50 The date of his death is from Adlung, p. 689. 

81 I am acquainted with eight. They are scattered among the collections 
which the diligent Organist and Lexicographer of Weimar, Johann Gottfried 
Walther, made with his own hand. The Royal Library at Berlin contains 
three volumes of such collected arrangements ; a fourth is in the Royal Library at 
Konigsberg (15,839; catalogue by J. Miiller, No. 499, p. 71). The fifth, and 
most complete of all, comprising 365 pages in oblong folio, is in the possession 
of Herr Frankenberger, Musical Director at Sondershausen, who kindly per- 
mitted me to make unlimited use of it. The orchestral Suites are all in the 
Royal Library, Berlin. 


it includes several elegant passages. The cantus firmus is 
treated contrapuntally ; between the separate lines of the 
chorale, and at the beginning of the whole, short figures are 
introduced, built upon the subjects of the next succeeding 
line. The least satisfactory are those in two parts ("Wir 
glauben all," "Jesus, Jesus, nichts als Jesus," " Helft mir 
Gott's Giite preisen "). 62 The counterpoint moves too much 
in crude intervals, which are not pleasing. Among the last 
four (" Wir glauben all," twice over, " Christ lag in Todes- 
banden," " Vom Himmel hoch ") the melody occurs in the 
bass, and here especially reminds us of Pachelbel in the 
treatment of the counterpoint ; still it does not proceed with- 
out some harshness here and there. The most successful 
is certainly the "Christmas Hymn" (Weihnachtslied), where 
the chorale, which is given to the tenor and cleverly treated 
throughout, is accompanied by a flowing and jubilant upper 
part. A friend of his son praises his works by saying, " They 
may not be difficult, but they are elegant." 58 There is also 
another piece of his of the same kind, where a different instru- 
ment was introduced, to which the cantus firmus was given 
a method frequently adopted at that time, but which pro- 
duced nothing of a superior order. 54 But his special talent 
for that species of composition is exhibited in the Suites for 
orchestra, or, as they were then generally called, from their 
opening piece, the " Ouverturen " (overtures). The MSS. in 
which they are contained have, at any rate for the most part, 
come down to us with perfect certainty from the possession 
of Sebastian Bach. He copied the greater portion of the 
orchestral parts of three of them with his own hand at Leipzig, 
and at the time of his own greatest powers a sufficient indi- 
cation of the value he attached to these compositions. In 
the " overtures," the introductory portions of these instru- 

sa It has not been thought necessary to give the English of German words set 
to music, excepting when the critical analysis of the work has rendered it neces- 
sary. The musician can only find the pieces under the indication of the German 
words, whether in English or in foreign collections. 

5 * Adlung, op. cit. 

54 E. L. Gerber, Neues historisch-biographisches Lexicon der Tonkiinstler. 
Leipzig, 1812. Part I., col. 202. Adlung, op. cit., p. 687. 


mental Suites, Bernhard Bach displays so much force and 
fire that they are in no way behind the best operatic over- 
tures of that time for instance, Handel's Overture to Ra- 
damisto, or Lotti's to Ascanio while in spirit and variety 
they excel them; and in these qualities he is surpassed only 
by Sebastian Bach himself. The best by far of the Suites 
is that in G minor, for solo violin, accompanied by first and 
second violin, viola, and basso continue. The fugal theme 
of the overture 



SS 3 ^ 



r ^f* 

agrees in a remarkable way, and almost exactly, with the 
opening of Sebastian Bach's Sonata for the flute in B 
minor ; 65 it is carried on through 142 bars with a most inge- 
nious interweaving of the solo violin. In the succeeding Air 
a lovely independent melody is given to the violin, and it 
must be allowed that the closing Rondeau has both sense 

gj | r f-g=f=a:g=j=: ' 1 r Cj r r =E^g^= 



'* J=f=t 

and character. Besides a Loure and a Passepied, this Suite 
includes an exquisite Fantasia, worthy indeed of Sebastian 
Bach, written in the flowing and skilful style which is 
possible only to the highest development of art. 56 

" B.-G., IX., p. 3. P., Series III., Vol. VI., Son. I. 
* App. B. II. 


Of Johann Bernhard's younger brother, born August 15, 
1685, it need only be said that the direction of the " Baths- 
musik " fell into his hands after the death of Aegidius Bach, 
and that he still held that office in 1735. 57 

We may pass quickly over the two last sons of old Johann 
Bach. The third, Johann Jakob, born April 26, 1650, 
appears not to have been a musician, and only figures once 
(November 5, 1686) in the parish register. The last, 
Johann Nikolaus, born i653, 58 was, on the contrary, town- 
musician, and a very good player on the viol di gamba. He 
married Sabina Katharina Burgolt, November 29, 1681, and 
when, a year later, August 31, 1682, she bore him a son, he 
selected his father's foster son, Johann Christoph Hoffmann, 
of Suhl, to be the child's godfather. 59 He died of the plague 
in the same year, 60 and we have now done with the last 
offshoot of the lineage of Johann Bach, so far as they play 
any part in the histbry of art. 



HEINRICH BACH, Johann's youngest brother, stood in the 
most intimate connection with him, and we will next 
turn to him and his descendants; the middle brother, 
Christoph, will presently lead us in a direct line to 
Sebastian Bach himself. Of all Hans Bach's children 
Heinrich is the one who inherited, besides his musical gifts, 
his father's character, and his gay and innocently jovial 
nature. It may, therefore, readily be imagined that he was 
a particular favourite with the old man, who had him care- 

sy The genealogy mentions three sons of his : Joh. Friedrich, Joh. Aegidius 
(both schoolmasters), and Wilhelm Hieronymus. According to the Kittel and 
Korabinsky pedigrees, the eldest was born in 1703 (?). 

58 According to the genealogy. 

59 This son was also named Johann Nikolaus; he became a surgeon, and lived 
in Eastern Prussia. In the same neighbourhood, at Insterburg and Marien- 
werder, some of the descendants of Johann Ernst Bach, of Eisenach, also 

60 According to the genealogy. 


fully brought up, so far as circumstances permitted, and, 
as we are specially informed, in a pious way. 61 His first 
teacher in instrumental music was, naturally, his father; 
and the lad was a diligent scholar in violin-playing. But 
already he was more attracted by the mighty tones of the 
organ, which, however, he could certainly not have heard 
in the church of his native village, since it was not till 
i652 62 that Wechmar owned a small organ. When Sunday 
came round, the boy would not unfrequently run off to 
the neighbouring villages Wandersleben, Miihlberg, per- 
haps even to Gotha to satiate his ear with the sublime 
harmonies. He craved opportunities for further culture, and 
his eldest brother, Johann, was selected to provide for this. 
Where and when he obtained it cannot be ascertained ; but, 
remembering what we have learnt concerning Johann's 
earlier place of residence, we are guided to Schweinfurt and 
Suhl ; and the dates suit very well, too, since Heinrich was 
born September 16, 1615, and the years of his musical 
apprenticeship must, therefore, have fallen about 1627- 
1632. In Schweinfurt the brothers suffered severely from 
the war ; the results of the Edict of Restitution drove them 
out of the town, and thus they may both have moved to 
Suhl about the year 1629. When the elder subsequently 
settled in Erfurt, in 1635, Heinrich went with him and 
played in the Raths-Guild until, in 1641, he at last was 
appointed to the post which was best adapted to his tastes 
and his capabilities. He became Organist in Arnstadt, and 
held this office above fifty years, till his death, July 10, 
I692. 68 So soon as he was at home in his new office 
he began to think of establishing a household ; and, as he 
had all his life long clung to his eldest brother, he now 

61 Job. Gottfried Olearius, Leichenrede (funeral sermon) auf Heinrich Bach, 
with the usual supplementary notice of his life. Arnstadt, 1692. The amplest 
authority as to his life. 

62 Bruckner, Kirchen- und Schulenstaat im Herzogthum Gotha. Part III., 
Sec. 9, p. 8. 

63 The account here given is an attempt to reconcile and connect several con- 
tradictory statements and records. That both the brothers lived for a long 
time in Suhl is clear from the marriages they made. 


married the younger sister of Johann's first wife. She 
was named Eva, and was born in 1616. The marriage 
took place in the year after his appointment. He chose 
his two brothers to be godfathers to his first son, Johann 
Christoph, born December 8, 1642. 

It required some courage to marry in those times, not only 
because often enough the husband could defend neither him- 
self, his wife, nor his child against the insolent violence of an 
ungoverned soldiery, but also because it was only too often im- 
possible to foresee where the means of subsistence were to 
come from. It was not long before the bitterest want knocked 
at the door of Heinrich Bach's humble dwelling. It is true 
that a salary of fifty-two florins and an allowance for house- 
rent of five florins 64 were assigned to him, but it was long since 
he had been paid. The petty Government itself, which was 
also much weakened by the war, had no money, and so could 
give none to its officials and employes. At this time the com- 
plaints as to arrears of payment were universal. Bach's 
predecessor in office, Christoph Klemsee, had once had to 
claim for several hundred thalers. Besides, the war-taxes 
had to be paid, and if the lowest class of soldiers once fell 
upon a man, he was not sure even of the clothes upon his 
back. 65 Matters must have come to a very bad pass before a 
man of no pretensions or rank could make up his mind to 
appear before a Count of Schwarzburg as a petitioner on 
such grounds. But, in August, 1644, he knew not, as he 
says, "by the strange visitation of God," where to find bread 
for himself and his young family, seeing that the salary due 
to him had not been paid for more than a year, and that 
all he had previously received he had had to use his own 
words "to sue for almost with tears." 66 It would be quite 

64 That is to say, Meissen gulden = twenty-one gute groschen. That this may 
not be thought less than a fair salary, it may be mentioned that the Conrector of 
the school at Arnstadt, even in the latter third of the seventeenth century, 
received only eighty-one gulden and ten measures of rye. 

65 See the graphic picture drawn by Th. Irmisch in Der thuringische 
Chronikenschreiber M. Paulus Jovius. Sondershausen, 1870, pp. 30, 31. 

66 State Archives of Sondershausen. Documents relating to the school at 
Arnstadt. 1616 to 1680. 


impossible to conceive how he had lived at all up to this 
time, unless we suppose that he had owned a small plot of 
ground, and by cultivating it had kept himself at least from 
starvation. Some amount of agriculture always was, and 
still is, carried on by the schoolmasters, cantors, and 
organists in Thuringia. In addition to this, there were cer- 
tain payments in kind, which, towards the end of the Thirty 
Years' War, flowed in all the more abundantly because buyers 
were lacking as well as money ; two thirds of the population 
had perished. The young Count at once issued a strict 
command that Bach was to be helped out of his extreme 
need, and that he was to have no further cause of com- 
plaint; but the keeper of the funds appropriated to such 
purposes tendered his resignation, saying that during the 
thirteen years he had held his office he had had to submit to 
more disagreeables than the meanest servant. It is easy to 
see how great the danger was, in such circumstances, of 
falling into a dissolute life; and Bach's predecessor had 
set him a bad example in this respect, of a life of im- 
morality necessitating the sternest interference of the 
authorities. 67 It is, therefore, all the more remarkable that 
there is not the smallest record or hint of anything that can 
cast a shade upon Bach's character. His life seems to have 
been of such innocent simplicity that we may contemplate 
it with the sincerest pleasure and admiration. 

Johann Gottfried Olearius, standing by the grave of Hein- 
rich Bach, praised the exemplary piety of his deceased friend 
with a full heart, and in words which are far from being a 
mere form of amiable rhetoric ; and though we may be 
ready to confirm this verdict, so far as it is still possible to 
test its justice, its full value will not be plainly evident to a 
superficial consideration. The value of such sentiments 
differs with the times. There may be conditions under which 
it seems to be no particular merit to be called a pious man ; 

Christoph Klemsee had been educated in Italy, and in the year 1613 had 
published (Weidner, Jena) a volume of Italian Madrigals for five voices, as I 
learn from a communication by Georg Beckers, of Lancy. (Monatshefte fur 
Musikgeschichte, IV.) 


but there are times, too, when piety is the only safeguard for 
the highest ideal of human blessings, and the sole guarantee 
for a sound core of human nature. The German nation was 
living through such a period during the last years of the 
Thirty Years' War and those which immediately followed on 
it. The mass of the people vegetated in dull indifference, 
or gave themselves up to a life of coarse and immoral enjoy- 
ment ; the few superior souls who had not lost all courage to 
live, when a fearful fate had crushed all the real joys of life 
around them, fixed their gaze above and beyond the common 
desolation, on what they hoped in as eternal and imperishable, 
and found comfort and refreshment in the thought that all 
the deeds and sufferings of men rest in the hand of God. 
Thus they fostered in silence the germ from which Germany, 
at its resurrection, was destined to derive new vigour; and 
we may here observe how culture proceeds from religion. 

The first step to freedom was made in the province of 
religious thought by Spener and his followers, and the first 
work in which history was scientifically treated grew out of 
Pietism. Within scarcely a century music was developed by 
religion since on the ground of pure feeling there were no 
external obstacles to be overcome to a height which afforded 
an unerring evidence of the indestructible spirit of the 
German nation, and proved, as no other phenomenon ever 
has done, the immeasurable depth of its foundations. And as 
the bias towards instrumental music, with its transcendental 
ideals, is universal and seated in the depths of our very being, 
it is quite intelligible why, at that precise time, it was the art 
of organ music which first soared up on mighty wings, and 
why all that Germany was then able to produce in the direc- 
tion of vocal music could only lean on and grow from that. 
And those men who, during their whole lives, stood in inti- 
mate connection with religion, or who were in the service of 
the Church which amounts to the same thing, so far as 
concerns the men whose history specially interests us we 
may regard as enjoying particular advantages. The man 
who, filling such a position, cherished in his soul that pre- 
cious ideal in all humble and faithful piety, we must, if for 
that reason only, designate as a foster-father of culture. 


Heinrich Bach was so happy as to have preserved in- 
effaceable impressions from his childhood, when his own 
predisposition for church music had been strengthened by a 
pious education ; and we learn from the words of the funeral 
sermon how full of vitality these impressions still remained 
even in his later years, for the preacher can have had no 
other source of information than the narratives of the old 
man himself. We can, therefore, well understand his horror 
when he was once summoned before the Consistory, 
because, at some small festivity which he had given to the 
carpenters after the finishing of some building, he was said 
to have laughed and mocked at the " Paternoster." He 
swore emphatically, and by God Himself, that he had heard 
and known nothing of it ; and, in fact, nothing could have 
been farther from him than such blasphemy. It is, too, a 
simple but touching trait in his character that he never 
omitted to follow a body to the grave, if it were in any way 
possible, however poor and mean the social position of the 
deceased. 68 His nature was friendly and helpful to such a 
degree that in all the town there was no one who could 
speak of him but as " dear and good." From the great 
fame he attained as a musical authority he had to examine 
the candidates for places as organist throughout the Count's 
little dominions, and to pronounce his judgment on them. 
When, in the year 1681, a new organist was to be appointed 
to Rockhausen, and the candidate had performed before 
him, he pronounced that, so far as his organ-playing was 
concerned, he was good enough for the salary. Too good- 
natured to hinder the musician who was probably bad 
enough from obtaining the place, he still could not forbear 
from reflecting ironically on the smallness of the pay. From 
his own experience he could sing a song of lamentation over 
the payments of the Government of Schwarzburg-Arnstadt. 
It has already been said that he inherited his father's 
cheerful temper, and it was so conspicuous a feature in his 
character that a century later Philipp Emanuel Bach was 

Olearius, op. cit., p. 45. 


able to speak of his "lively humour." 69 Many disasters 
befell him in the course of his long life, particularly during 
the time of war ; later again, in family matters ; and finally, 
in his own health. But he always held his head above 
water, looked at the best side of everything, and preserved 
his cheerfulness through all misfortunes. 

However, fate rewarded this admirable and amiable nature 
with blessings such as must, above all others, have brought 
happiness into the life of a man of his disposition. During 
a married life of more than thirty-seven years, six children 
grew up around him, of whom three were sons full of talent, 
nay of genius, whose musical education must have been a 
joy to him. The eldest son, in all ways the most dis- 
tinguished, has been already mentioned (Johann Christoph); 
a second, Johannes Matthaus (January 3, 1645), did not 
survive his second year. Then followed Johann Michael 
(August 9, 1648), and Johann Gunther (July 17, 1653). 
The two last were soon accomplished organists, and could, 
when necessary, fill their father's place. When Johann 
Christoph, the eldest, was called to Eisenach, and when, in 
1668, Maria Katharina, the eldest daughter, born March 17, 
1651, had married Christoph Herthum, Organist at Ebe- 
leben, near Sondershausen, the father would often go to 
visit his absent children, and Michael and Gunther had 
meanwhile to perform the duties of organist. This arrange- 
ment, however, which certainly cannot have involved the 
slightest inconvenience, seemed too arbitrary to Count 
Ludwig Gunther; and in the year 1670, when the choir 
music on Sundays, which had to some extent deteriorated, 
was to be improved and raised to a higher level by the 
appointment of a special hour for practice every Sunday, 
under the direction of the Cantor Heindorff, while Bach was 
to play the accompaniment, the Count, in giving him notice, 
took the opportunity of forbidding him this independence. 

In the year 1672 we meet with a modest petition from the 
artist. He had heard that his predecessor had had a few mea- 
sures of corn granted to him in addition to his salary; his 

69 Postscript to the genealogy. 


own perquisites were very small ; he still felt sound in health, 
it was true, but old age was approaching; hence he prayed for 
a similar favour. He had served for thirty-one years before 
he even thought of claiming what had been freely given 
to his unworthy predecessor ; and now that he was a man 
fifty-seven years of age, it was, of course, granted to him 
also. Then he worked on bravely in his post, and when 
occasionally it was too hard for him he was helped by 
his youngest son, but, with the consent of the Count, 
Michael had meanwhile gone from home. 

Ten years later he was an old man, his faithful wife 
was dead (May 21, 1679), his limbs were feeble, and 
his fingers stiff. He now petitioned (November 9, 1682) 
that his son might be appointed his permanent deputy, 
for "without vain boasting, he had so learnt his art that 
it might be hoped he would serve God and his church 
with it, in such wise as that their gracious lordships, high 
and low, nay, and the whole community, might approve." 
This was granted, and Gunther, happy in his appointment, 
three weeks later was married to Anna Margaretha, daughter 
of Bur germeister Kriil, of Arnstadt, deceased. But, before 
one year, death snatched away the stay of his old father and 
the husband of the young wife (April 8, 1683); Bach had 
to sit alone again on the organ-bench, and his home was 
solitary indeed. However, his son-in-law, Herthum, had 
meanwhile come to settle in Arnstadt, and he combined with 
his office of "clerk of the kitchen" the duty of serving the 
organ at the castle chapel, while Bach, as heretofore, 
officiated in the Franciscan Church of the Holy Virgin. 
From the year 1683 Herthum took the old man to live with 
him entirely in his house, which was situated in the Leng- 
witz quarter of the town; 70 he performed his duties for 
him, at first in part and then entirely, and he and his 
children endeavoured to cheer and soothe his last days. For 
a time Sebastian Bach's eldest brother, who had come from 

' We know this from a list preserved in the Town Hall of Arnstadt. It 
would seem to have been the house numbered 308, which for a long period was 
the organists' residence. 


Erfurt, assisted him in this. Ten years more slipped away, 
and the old man, now seventy-seven years of age, addressed 
his last petition to Count Anton Giinther. He had been 
organist for more than fifty years, and was now awaiting a 
happy death from God; he had never before preferred any 
petition (of this kind) to the Count; it would be a joy and a 
consolation to him if only, before his end, his son-in-law was 
made secure of succeeding to him in his office. He was 
already blind, and his name stands at the foot of the docu- 
ment, traced with a trembling hand. But his mind was still 
clear and active, and his grandson had to read the Bible 
aloud to him. This, his last petition, 71 was presented 
on January 14, 1692, and granted immediately, and on 
July 10 he died. Of all his children only Christoph and 
Michael survived ; his two daughters had preceded their 
father, but he was followed to the grave by twenty-eight 
grandchildren and even great-grandchildren, and the whole 
city mourned for him. It will not have escaped the notice 
of the attentive reader that, in his petition in 1682, Bach 
desires that his art may be placed at the service not of the 
Court only, but of the whole community, of rich and poor 

His proper instrument was the organ, and, though he is 
here and there called also " town-musician," we learn from his 
own statements in writing, as well as from all other sources 
of information at our disposal, that the only meaning of this was 
that it gave him the right to perform with the guild of town- 
musicians, and so opened to him a means of earning some- 
thing. As a member of the Count's band he also had some 
duties at court, and may, perhaps, have filled the seat at the 
Harpsichord. It is not now possible to acquire a more 
accurate knowledge of the kind and degree of his accomplish- 
ments as a performer, for very little of his composition has 
come down to us, and the general admiration of his contem- 
poraries finds expression only in generalities. At any rate, he 
was certainly one of the most distinguished organists of his 

71 This document, as well as the two previously mentioned, is to be found 
among the archives of Sondershausen. 

D 2 


time. Still he owes his fame, on good authority, to his pro- 
ductiveness as a composer. When Olearius, in his funeral 
sermon on Heinrich Bach, mentions Chorales, Motetts, 
Concertos, Fugues, and Preludes, he includes nearly all the 
forms of musical art employed at that time in church music. 
In these Bach poured out his fresh, childlike, and mirthful 
spirit ; that happy temper which Philipp Emanuel could 
praise in his compositions. One of his favourite works was 
a composition for church use, founded on the text from 
the Psalms, Repleatur os meum laude tua, to which Olearius 
referred as he stood by his coffin. When the preacher says 
that Bach, in his compositions, "of which the purpose is 
never certainly discovered till the end, nevertheless fore- 
saw and prepared it from the first," he must be under- 
stood to mean generally that the artist was able to work 
up his composition on a settled plan towards a definite 
end. Still we may also trace here a reference to a richer 
development of the details and resources of the art, and of 
the expression of the words; elements which had been trans- 
planted to Germany from Italy, particularly by Heinrich 
Schutz, and left the stamp of their preponderating influence 
on the Protestant church music of the whole of the seven- 
teenth century. On the other hand, in a piece for the 
organ founded on the chorale "Christ lag inTodesbanden," 72 
which has been preserved, Bach seems perfectly familiar 
with the character and requirements of the old school. 
Although worked out for the organ alone, this treatment 
of a chorale follows throughout the strict laws of vocal 
progression, and it consciously brings into prominence the 
most conspicuous features of the Doric mode intentionally 
even, in the last bar but one. It must here be mentioned 
that our master had had unusual opportunities for studying 

72 First mentioned by A. G. Ritter, Orgelfreund, Vol. VI., No. 14, from a MS. 
derived from Suhl, and now in my possession. The piece here, it is true, has 
only the initials " H. B.," which may just as well stand for Heinrich Buttstedt 
as for Heinrich Bach. In fact, the piece occurs again in a MS. collection of 
chorales by J. G. Walther, in the Royal Library at Berlin, under Buttstedt's 
name. Still it seems to me to have a certain old-fashioned character, but little 
in accordance with that composer's style. 


the old church compositions in Arnstadt, for the church 
library there possessed, in a series of folios, compositions by 
Orlando Lasso, Philippus de Monte, Alardus Nuceus, and 
Franciscus Guerrerus, Liber selectarum of L. Senfl from 
the year 1520, and others. These treasures had partly found 
their way thither by the gift of Count Gunther der Streitbare, 
and they still exist there. On the other hand, there are no 
doubt to be found in the choir library of Arnstadt com- 
positions of various kinds by Andreas Hammerschmidt, 
which show traces of much use an evidence that at the 
same time full justice was done to the then modern tendency. 
Heinrich Bach, in the humility of his heart, probably never 
thought of publishing his compositions, so we must confine 
ourselves almost entirely to guesses as to his artistic method; 
these, however, derive confirmation from a glance at that of 
his sons, whose principal perhaps sole teacher he was, 
and whose works have been preserved by a happier fate. 

We have only to do with Joh. Christoph and Joh. 
Michael, for of Joh. Gunther nothing is known but what 
has already been told. The two brothers resembled each 
other in character, though not, indeed, in talent. Michael 
is described by a contemporary witness as of a quiet and 
reserved nature, and his elder brother, though he remained 
unknown, alike to his contemporaries and to posterity, in 
spite of his noble genius and great artistic skill, entirely 
disdained to assert his pre-eminence nay, was, perhaps, not 
fully aware of it himself. What we can relate of the out- 
ward circumstances of his life is wonderfully little. It is 
highly improbable that he should have sought foreign cen- 
tres of culture with a view to his own education ; he could 
hardly have attempted it with his own small means, and the 
times were not favourable to obtaining any assistance from 
the Counts of Schwarzburg. Indeed, at the age of twenty- 
three we already find him established in an official position ; 
and, finally, his inclinations certainly did not tempt him to 
distant journeys. The whole family of the Bachs were full 
of a native and pithy originality, and hardly one of the 
illustrious musicians it produced, including Sebastian and 
his generation, ever visited Italy for the development of his 


talent, or benefited by the instruction of a foreign master. 
They strove assiduously and diligently to make themselves con- 
stantly acquainted with every new development and tendency 
of their art, but they assimilated it and were not absorbed 
by it. If among the elder relatives of Johann Christoph Bach 
there had been a teacher at all commensurate with his 
talents, his education would assuredly have fallen into his 
hands; but at that time his father was undoubtedly the 
most distinguished of the family, both as organist and com- 
poser, and it was to him that his son first owed his knowledge 
and direction. He was appointed to be Organist to the 
church at Eisenach 78 in 1665, and he remained at that post 
till the end of his life of more than sixty years. Among the 
churches where he had to perform the Services, the most 
important was that of St. George, of which, however, the 
organ must have been dilapidated, or have become useless 
on other grounds, for it had to be replaced four years after 
Bach's death by a new one, with four manuals reaching to 
the e m , pedals up to the e f , and fifty-eight stops. 74 Whether, 
or when, he was also Court Organist cannot be determined 
with certainty; at any rate, this office was filled from 
1677 to 1678 by Johann Pachelbel. Bach married on 
the Third Sunday after Trinity, 1667, Maria Elisabeth 
Wedemann, whose father was town-clerk of Arnstadt. 
Seven children were born of this marriage, among whom 
four were sons: Johann Nikolaus (October 10, 1669), Job. 
Christoph (August 27, 1674), Job. Friedrich, and Job. 
Michael. 75 From the year 1696 he was allowed to live free 
of rent in the Prince's Mint, where seven living rooms on 
the ground floor and stabling for two horses were placed at 

r In a funeral sermon on Dorothea Maria Bach, which I shall refer to again, 
in the year 1679, he is spoken of as "the well-appointed Organist of all the 
churches here in Eisenach." 

74 Adlung, Musica mechanica organoedi. Berlin, 1768. Vol. I., pp. 214, 215. 

75 Of these four sons named in the genealogy, only the second is to be found 
in the Eisenach register. The date of birth of the eldest is from Walther, as 
also that of the father's death. The daughters were Marie Sophie (March 24, 
1674, most likely 1671), Christine Dorothea (September 20, 1678), Anna Elisa- 
beth 'June 4, 1689). 


his disposal a tolerably handsome lodging for his position 
and for the time he lived in. 76 He died March 31, 1703. 
His successor in office was Bernhard Bach, of Erfurt, as has 
already been mentioned. 77 

The early life of his younger brother, Michael, was passed, 
we may be sure, exactly like that of the elder ; he enjoyed 
the advantage of his father's teaching, and, when he was 
qualified, assisted him in his duties. In 1673 the place of 
Organist at Gehren, near Arnstadt, became vacant. Johann 
Effler, who had been intrusted with it till then and who 
must have been highly efficient, for great efforts were made 
to keep him withdrew in order to take the place of Organist 
to the Prediger-Kirche at Erfurt, vacated by the death of 
Johann Bach. Michael passed his examination as organist 
on October 5, and so satisfied the minister and the town- 
commissioners that they expressed their special thanks to 
His Highness the Count for providing the community and 
the church with a quiet, modest, and experienced artist. At 
the same time he was made parish-clerk, and received for 
that office a yearly stipend of ten gulden. His whole income 
he himself states in 1686 at seventy-two gulden, with eighteen 
cords of wood, five measures of corn, nine measures of barley, 
with leave to brew three and a half barrels of beer, and a few 
other trifles in kind, a piece of pasture land, and free residence. 
The house in which he dwelt is still standing, and is the 
deacon's residence. 78 Besides fulfilling his duties and his 
occupations as a composer, he found spare time in which to 

76 The bond relating to this, signed by Bach, sealed and dated April 27, 1696, 
as well as the only legal document to be found about it, are in the State 
archives of Weimar. The octagonal seal has the letters " J. C. B." interlaced. 
The Bach family never possessed a common seal. From the time of his resi- 
dence at Weimar, Sebastian used a stamp with a rose and crown on it. Stephan 
Bach, of Brunswick, had a stork, or crane, looking to the left ; Johann Elias 
Bach, of Schweinfurt, a shield with a dove over it, and on the field a post-horn. 

77 Walther, in the manuscript appendix to the Lexicon, mentions that a 
solemn service was performed in his honour on the verse of Paul Gerhardt. 
" The head, the feet, and the hands rejoice that labour is ended." Gerber, who 
was in possession of Walther's copy, repeats the statement. 

79 In the middle of the last century a large portion of Gehren was destroyed 
by fire. All the municipal buildings which were burnt down were registered by 
authority; the " City Record Office" was not among the number. 


devote himself to constructing instruments ; in this he was 
the precursor and perhaps the instructor of his nephew 
Nikolaus. We find him in November, 1686, engaged in 
constructing several clavichords for privy-councillor Went- 
zing, of Arnstadt, 79 and a violin of his making was, at the 
beginning of this century, in the possession of the geometri- 
cian Schneider, of Gehren ; it was given by him to Albert 
Methfessel, who, himself a Thuringian, at that time was 
residing at Rudolstadt. 80 

As his brother Christoph had married the elder daughter 
of the town-clerk Wedemann, it was perfectly natural, from 
the Bach point of view, that Michael should choose Katha- 
rina, the younger. She gave him her hand on the third day 
of Christmastide, 1675, and in the course of eighteen years of 
married life brought him five daughters, the youngest of 
whom became the first wife of Sebastian Bach, and one 
son named Gottfried, born March 20, 1690, for whom his 
father selected his first cousin, the town-musician Joh. 
Christoph Bach, of Arnstadt, to be godfather. But the boy 
died in the following year, and the father, too, was snatched 
away in the flower of his manhood by an early death, in 
May, 1694. 



THE devastating war seriously disturbed the Germans in 
their prosecution of the new musical tendency, which 
first made its appearance in about 1600, as an introduction 
from Italy, and which soon found eager adherents and 
talented artists to develop it in Germany. Those artists, 
indeed, the roots of whose vitality reached back into the 
antecedent period, continued to labour during the war ; 
nay, even displayed their utmost power in the worst times, 
hardly pressed from outside but untouched in their inmost 

79 The deeds relating to this are in the archives at Sondershausen. 

80 I have this on verbal but quite trustworthy testimony. What became of 
this violin after Methfessel's death, in 1869, I do not know. 


soul. Even those who were born within the first decade of 
these years of misfortune could derive their mental nourish- 
ment from a national vigour which, though severely tested, 
was not yet overtaxed ; but during the last fifteen years of 
the war, and even for some time after, the German nation 
was sunk in profound exhaustion. It had come apparently to 
a deadlock, both physical and mental ; and during the whole 
period from about 1650 to 1675, in which the young saplings 
of that period might have been expected to bear some fruits, 
we find throughout the domain of music none but old musi- 
cians in any way productive ; no new or fresh growth. It is 
not until after this that we are first impressed with the feel- 
ing that the art is gradually reviving and going forward 
again, seeking and feeling its way. 

Johann Christoph and Johann Michael were born in years 
falling precisely within this period of depression. But it is 
most astonishing and profoundly significant, and character- 
istic of their race, that the common signs of the times were 
hardly stamped on them at all. They both exhibit a depth 
and freshness of resource which make them appear as an 
unique phenomenon in their way. That such a complete 
insensibility to the influences of the calamities of war, of its 
outrages, and of the universal degeneracy, should be possible 
to them, necessarily leads us to infer their descent from a 
race of the greatest health and vigour, a family of the 
soundest morality. These influences must also have un- 
failingly supported them as they grew up amid the life of 
those days, when every ideal and principle had vanished ; 
must have hedged them in with shelter, and have so edu- 
cated them that when they were sent forth independently into 
the world, any fall from their high moral and artistic standard 
was no longer possible. Their portion was a reserved and 
contemplative spirit, which kept their ear open to the 
deepest stirrings of an unspotted nature, and their eye fixed 
on the pure images of an unsullied imagination, and which 
left its mark on their musical creations, as it did, later, on 
those of Sebastian Bach. Just as Heinrich Bach fostered, 
in the simple piety of his childlike soul, a spark of that 
mysterious power which was destined to raise up the crushed 


nation to new life, so we may say of these two men, that 
that spirit, which in them took the form of art when all 
around lay dead and void, was the better self of the German 
nation. It is this fact which foreshadows the history of 
their works, and which is the real reason why, subsequently, 
their compositions were so soon neglected, and those of the 
greater of the two forgotten the quickest. While the develop- 
ment of art in Germany stood still for a generation, other 
nations, and notably Italy, had progressed rapidly, and 
reached the summit by so much earlier. The newly invigo- 
rated Germans saw, before them and above them, a blos- 
soming field of art, which they aspired, with true German 
instinct, to make their own and to cultivate for their own 
profit. They had lost all direct sympathy with what lay 
behind them ; thus they hurried forward after new ideals. 
How strange and tragical are the destinies of the world's 
history ! In order that the utmost heights of art at that 
period might be climbed by two German musicians, their 
nation had to lie for a time in a deathlike torpor while other 
nations outsoared it, only to place all they had attained at 
the disposal of those artists; but they, who held their ground 
in the midst of the general decay, who cherished and hid 
the precious essence of German national feeling in a pure 
vessel the wheel rolled over them and erased all trace of 
them ; nay, and soon no one even asked where they had 

But they shall not be forgotten for ever ! It is not only 
as being ancestors of Sebastian Bach that they have a signi- 
ficance for us ; their personal merit as artists is considerable 
enough for them to deserve that we should assign them a 
place of honour in the history of art. Neglect has indeed 
suffered the greater portion of their works to perish, and this 
is especially to be regretted in the case of Michael Bach, 
whose strength must have lain principally in instrumental 
music ; of all their compositions in this kind only a few 
fragments still exist, while those vocal compositions in 
which, according to the declaration of the generation which 
succeeded him, Joh. Christoph had put forth all his powers, 
have been preserved in rather greater number. Still, irrespec- 


tive of this disproportion of their surviving works, we may un- 
hesitatingly attribute the greater talent, from a general point 
of view, to the latter. His works are of an importance and 
completeness which must appear strange indeed to any one 
who has made himself familiar with the uncertain, groping 
style of the art of that period, if he has not fully realised the 
peculiar position held by this master in his own time. An 
unresting industry and great technical skill must, in him, 
have been allied to a deep, strong sentiment for music to a 
nature which dwelt in solitude, and independently carried 
out the ideals of older artists, undisturbed by the apprecia- 
tion or the indifference of the world, and which would 
rather deserve to be regarded as the precursor of Handel 
than of Sebastian Bach, if a certain vein of fervent tender- 
ness did not betray his relationship with the latter. 

Heinrich Schiitz, in the third part of his " Symphoniae 
sacrae" and Andreas Hammerschmidt, more particularly 
in the two parts of his " Musikalischen Gesprache iiber die 
Evangelia" (Musical Discourses on the Gospels), 81 created 
a form which was destined to be of the greatest impor- 
tance in the development of the art of that time, and 
finally to culminate chiefly in the Handel Oratorio, although 
this derived something, too, from the church music of 
Sebastian Bach. This musical-poetic treatment of isolated 
biblical incidents arose partly from the impetus towards 
dramatic forms of art then developing in Italy, with a certain 
leaning towards the type of the sacred concerto, as it was 
called. % The mode in which the Bible text was treated was 
sometimes dramatic, so that the speeches of different per- 
sons were distributed to different voices, sometimes choral, 
narrative, or devotional. Hammerschmidt, for instance, loved 
to introduce verses of Protestant hymns. They wished to 
make the incident dealt with as vivid as possible by 
the means afforded by music by expressive declamation 
and a characteristic use of the instruments, but, above all, 
by a constant effort after forms of composition such as had 
some musical analogy with the events treated, both as to 

81 About the middle of the seventeenth century. 


general structure and in details of treatment all combining 
to excite the fancy to reproduce a vivid picture. Since it is 
not the character of the oratorio to be actually dramatic, 
but only to embody, as it were, in a musical form the feelings 
to which an event would give rise, we find that it was already 
cast by Schiitz and Hammerschmidt in the form which 
was brought to perfection by Handel; and the fact that 
nearly a century had yet to elapse before this glorious cul- 
mination, is owing to the debilitation already mentioned as 
having fallen on the German nation in the second half of the 
seventeenth century. While at this very time, in Italy, very 
important oratorios could be created as, for instance, the 
Santa Francesca Romana, of Allessandri the above-men- 
tioned German masters, as it would seem, found very few 
men of talent able to follow with success in the path they 
had opened, and those who could, it is very certain, 
worked, at the time, for themselves alone. We possess 
only one work of this kind even by Johann Christoph Bach, 
but this stands up so far above the works of his predecessors 
and the surroundings of his time that, of itself, it suffices to 
raise the composer to a high rank as an artist. It is a tone- 
picture founded on the mystical strife between the Arch- 
angel Michael and the Devil : Revelation, xii. 7-12 
"And there was war in heaven: Michael and his angels 
fought against the dragon ; and the dragon fought and his 
angels, and prevailed not ; neither was their place found any 
more in heaven. And the great dragon was cast out, that 
old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth 
the whole world : he was cast out into the earth, and 
his angels were cast out with him. And I heard a voice 
saying in heaven, Now is come salvation, and strength, and 
the kingdom of our God, and the power of His Christ : for 
the accuser of our brethren is cast down, which accused 
them before our God day and night. And they overcame 
him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their tes- 
timony; and they loved not their lives unto the death. 
Therefore rejoice, ye heavens, and ye that dwell in them." 

In order to meet the requirements of this bold and 
grandiose description, Bach summoned to his aid means of 



effect which must be considered remarkable, and not merely 
for the time when he wrote. Two choirs of five parts each, 
two violins, four violas, bassoon, four trumpets, drums, 
double-bass, and organ were introduced. Solo voices, of 
course, there are not, but occasionally the bass part leads 
in the chorus. The introduction is a sonata for the instru- 
ments without trumpets or drums, which leads by a broadly 
conceived succession of chords in common time into an 
imitative and more rapid movement in 3-4 time after a 
mode then much in favour, and which reminds us of the 
French ouverture. Then all the instruments are silent ; the 
two bass parts of the first choir, supported by the organ 
alone, then begin in canon the following strain, which is 
declamatory rather than melodic : 

Es er - hob sich ein Streit, 

es er - hob sich 

Es er - hob sich ein Streit, 

M r 


im Him - mel, im Him - mel, 

- hob sich ein Streit 

im Him - mel, im Him - mel, 

From the seventeenth bar the drums join in with dull low 
crotchet beats on the tonic and dominant. Four bars later 
a trumpet sounds as it were a distant battle-call ; a second 
answers it, then a third. The turmoil increases ; it is as if 
we saw the armed cohorts gathering from all the quarters of 
heaven. The fourth trumpet sounds ; and now the two choirs 
attack each other, as it were, like hostile armies. The 
whole body of the instruments, with the organ, rushes and 
roars above them. From the hottest of the fray the trumpet 
rings out in tumultuous passages of semiquavers, challenging 


and retiring in a bewildering and unresting double canon. 
We can fancy we see the immeasurable vault of heaven 
filling with the tumult of battle. A column of sound grows 
up, occupying the whole extent of harmonic pitch from CC 
to c m , and, except only a quite short passage at the beginning, 
remains for not less than sixty bars on the common chord 
of C. The contending choirs advance and recede in merely 
rhythmical ebb and flow ; on neither side will the harmonic 
unity give way. But at last the warlike turmoil subsides, 
and the choirs come forth triumphantly on the dominant, 
with the words, " And prevailed not." A vigorous and care- 
fully constructed fugato for the first choir follows, " Neither 
was their place found any more." According to the custom 
then in use, and to which Sebastian Bach himself remained 
faithful, the violins, by rising independently above the 
soprano, extend the structure to seven parts. A motive for 
the bass 

und es ward aus - ge - wor - fen der gro - sse Drach. 

6 656 

continues the description, supported by broad instrumental 
harmonies, and soon commands the whole body of the choir 
once more, graphically representing in a gradual descent the 
overthrow of Satan from Heaven. Then follows a symphony 
of victory for all the instruments in a rigid march-rhythm, 
and following that comes a new and glorious burst in the 

Un* icn nfc-re-te ei-ne gro - sse 
^^ 6 

4 1 - L - L - l c 

Stim-me, die sprach im Him - mel : 
6 65 

1 * J J 

. J J I 1 J ^-i-^l-JL 


Violins and Trumpets. _^_^_.^_, 
.1 .~ b 



*oH and Tr 


ist das Heil 

das . . Reich 





is't' ""das Heil 

das . Reich 



das Heil 



ist das Heil 

das . . . Reich 









The master has given to the words " great voice " all 
the magnificence of the utmost means afforded by the decla- 
matory style, a style which must above all else give free 
scope to the musical capabilities of the text itself before it 
can venture on any dramatic consideration. The composi- 
tion extends after this through several numbers, among which 
the passage "And they loved not their lives unto the death " 
is particularly striking for its fervent sentiment and charac- 
teristic stamp ; and it closes with a joyful song of triumph 
for the choirs alternately. It is also distinguished as a work 
of the genuine oratorio character by the great repose which 

4 8 


I 1 ; r2"i I I*' Trumpets. 

prevails throughout the modulations and harmonies, notwith- 
standing the picturesque variety and vigour of the scenes it 
depicts; it is no unfettered torrent of feeling that finds 
utterance, but the sentiment that flows round and about a 
fixed subject. Inasmuch as most of the composers of 
sacred music at the end of the seventeenth century display 
this harmonic simplicity, even in their purely lyrical choral 
subjects, they must be regarded, in these, as the precursors of 
Handel, while Sebastian Bach acquired his style of choraJ 
treatment in a different way, by means, namely, of instru- 
mental music. A greater variety of modulation might not, 
indeed, have proved a disadvantage to the work under con- 
sideration. Though the fertile adaptations of the common 




Got - tes sei - nes Chris - tus wor - den. 

Got - tes sei - nes Chris - tus wor - den. 

i i i i i ij *H 

m j mi & fl _mt fTS ^J . 

_, j -i-j 1 .-i i \ ^7~~ 

Got - tes sei - nes Chris - tus wor - den. 

_J , i | , "1 

Got * tes sei - nes Chris 

chord of C major with the allied harmonies serve the 
descriptive purpose, and though a few startling deviations 
stand out all the more strongly as, for instance, the grand 
change from C major to the common chord of B flat major, on 
the words " And deceiveth the whole world " " Die ganze 
Welt verfiihret" still the ear craves a flow of harmony of 
a deeper and more penetrating character, particularly at the 
close, and especially a more vigorous use of the sub-dominant. 
But, indeed, the whole scheme of the work would not have 
been what it is, had not Bach worked on a very distinct and 
clearly indicated model by Hammerschmidt. This com- 
poser in his work " Andern Theil geistlicher Gesprache iiber 
die Evangelia " (Second part of " Discourses on the Gospels," 



Dresden, 1656, No. XXVI.), had set the same text for a choir 
in six parts, with trumpets, cornets, and organ, and the idea 
of making the battle rage round the long held common chord 
of C major owes its invention really to him ; even in the 
musical presentment of the Fall from Heaven, and in the 
resounding C major of the close, the originality was in the 
older master. But the power of invention and the genius 
with which Bach clothed the image thus presented to him, 
and transformed the meagre cartoon into a grand fresco, show 
that he so far transcended his by no means contemptible pre- 
decessor, that we could hardly realise it without the circum- 
stance of this imitation. We must not enter on the details 
of a comparison which would be highly interesting ; still I 
may remind the reader how an analogy here suggests 
itself between Joh. Christoph Bach and Handel, who in the 
same way did not hesitate to work out in the most direct 
manner such compositions as took his fancy. 82 

It was impossible that so important a composition should 
fail to make an impression on many sincere artistic natures, 
in spite of the small amount of intelligent sympathy which was 
shown for Joh. Christoph Bach, alike by his contemporaries 
and by posterity. Georg Philipp Telemann evidently became 
acquainted with it when, from 1708 to 1711, he was Concert- 
meister and Capellmeister 88 at Eisenach. He himself attempted 
a similar flight, which at any rate dates from that time, for 
the festival of St. Michael ; but his talents were ill-adapted 
to the sublime, and even in this work he dwells in the region 
of commonplace, or forces to caricature the spasmodic 
treatment of the voices which characterises his earlier work, 
and which is objectionable alike in the separate parts and in 
the ensemble of the chorus. But the master met with due 
admiration from the next generation of his own family. 
Sebastian Bach who, as an artist, was in many ways greatly 
indebted to his uncle, held this choral work in high esteem, 

82 He made extensive use of a " Magnificat" by Dionigi Erba for " Israel in 
Egypt." See Chrysander, Handel, Vol. I., pp. 168-177. B.M. A list of these 
plagiarisms may be found in the Dictionary of Music and Musicians Art. 
" Israel in Egypt." 

M For explanation of these words see Translators' postscript. 

and even had it publicly performed in Leipzig. Indeed, 
the stimulus is clearly unmistakable which prompted him to 
work out a tone-picture of the same poetical subject, which 
forms the beginning of one of his greatest cantatas. 84 But the 
all-pervading difference of conception is conspicuous even in 
this. Sebastian stands supreme on the .ground of pure 
music, and though the uncle's work must retire into the 
background before the creative genius which speaks in every 
note of the nephew's work, still it may hold its place by its 
declamatory character. The text, " Nun ist das Heil und 
die Kraft," &c., which in Job. Christoph's work forms a part 
of the whole, Sebastian has used as the subject of a double 
chorus, 85 which, of course, admits of no comparison with the 
work of the older master, and which is, indeed, incomparable 
as its creator was. 

Philipp Emanuel Bach, Sebastian's son, also honoured 
the " great and impressive composer," as he designates Job. 
Christoph. 86 It is from him that we learn that at a perform- 
ance of this composition by Sebastian Bach at Leipzig, 
every one was astonished at the effect. 87 This astonishment 
would certainly be no less at the present day. 

We possess no work of this class by Michael Bach ; still, 
a composition of his with an instrumental accompaniment 
has been preserved which is purely lyric in style, and hence 
may be properly called a sacred cantata. 88 It is founded on a 
hymn in two verses, " Ach bleib bei uns, Herr Jesu Christ" 
"Ah, stay with us, Lord Jesu Christ," but no sort of chorale 
melody is used in the composition ; on the contrary, the 
composer has worked up the separate lines with special 
reference to the expression of the words and matter of each. 

84 " Es erhub sich ein Streit," B.-G., II., No. 19. 

85 B.-G., X., No. 50. 

86 Addenda to the Genealogy. 

87 In a letter to Forkel, dated from Hamburg, September 20, 1775. It is given 
in Bitter's work, Carl. Ph. Em. Bach, Vol. I., p. 343, where there is also an 
abridged translation. Ph. Emanuel Bach had preserved the document in his 
archives of the family (" Alt-Bachische Archive") a collection of the composi- 
tions of the various musicians of the family, before and after Sebastian. It 
passed from the collection of G. Polchau into the Royal Library at Berlin. 

88 In parts, derived from the Bach archives in the Royal Library at Berlin. 

B 2 


Without entering on any detailed discussion of the music, it is 
easy to see how inadequate this method must be in general. 
For this mode of treatment can only be applicable when it 
is desired almost exclusively to give expression to a leading 
sentiment, which flows like a current through the whole and 
penetrates every separate part. This piece is half in motett- 
form and half declamatory; the correct form for such themes 
had not yet been found, and many a composer was wrecked 
in seeking it till Sebastian Bach made the thing clear. In 
other respects the composition is full of interesting details 
and ingenious ideas ; in these Michael hardly stood behind 
his brother, though he did so conspicuously in his feeling 
for grand plastic forms. A choir in four parts, two violins, 
three violas, bassoon, and organ, are employed, and the key 
of G minor is chosen. An introductory sonata of fourteen 
bars, in which slow progressions alternate with rapid 
figures, has a somewhat incoherent effect. The first line 
of the hymn serves as the basis of a structure of sixteen 
bars, closing with a fermata ; there is a passionate accent in 
the cry, " Ach bleib ! ach bleib !" which predominates as 
early as in the third bar, rising to E flat major and A flat 
major, then sinking back to G minor, rising again, and 
finally ceasing in the relative major. The words " Weil es 
nun Abend worden ist " " For now the evening closes in," 
are sustained on a descending scale-like passage, which seems 
to feel its way among the voices, wandering in intermittent 
tones, not without some harshness in the harmonies 

well es nun A - bend, 

___ , -,. J- . J J J. 

weil es nun A - bend, weil es nun 

weil es nun A - bend, weil 

f J J . J-^ ;_ J_ 

weil es nun A - bend, 

and six bars later it closes with another fermata on the 
dominant of G minor. 

The soprano now enters with the words " Dein gottlich 
Wort das helle Licht" "The clearest light Thy word 


divine," set to an agitated subject rising by degrees; above 
it, two violins have an imitative passage, the first violin 
rising to the previously unheard-of height of g f|f and a tn , 
evidently to figure forth the idea of clear, pure light; the 
whole choir concludes in a striking manner, "Lass ja bei uns 
ausloschen nicht" " May it in us for ever shine," and 
carries on the same motive for a time with the instruments, 
returning at the end to G major. The second verse is 
treated in an analogous manner. The alto sings the first 
line alone in chromatic passages, which already, at that time, 
was a favourite way of expressing pain and sorrow. 


in die-ser letz- ten be-triib-ten Zeit, in die-ser letzten be-triibten Zeit ver-(leih) 
6 6 Tenor. , \ 
6 ft ( 5 4 b fc 5 fr 5 l| l 

l~fc= r t-^-J J hj 

^ i *-*- 

- v& - 


After two subjects, each closing with a fermata, a freely 
treated fugato immediately follows, with this pregnant 
theme : 

dass wir dein Wort u. Sa-cra-ment rein be - halt - en bis an un - ser End. 

The two upper stringed instruments take part in this in 
an independent and skilful way, while in other parts of the 
cantata, where the violins have to hold their own above the 
voices, they generally behave in a very awkward manner, and 
try to avoid a faulty progression of the parts by wonderful 
leaps and intervals a defect to be ascribed less to Michael 
Bach himself than to the imperfect technique of his time. 
A frequent use of the major sixth imparts to this fugato a 
stamp reminding us of the Doric mode, which suits it very 

In the treatment of the motett, Michael Bach betrays a 
similar uncertainty, but this likewise must be set down to 
the account of his time. 

The essential stamp and character of the motett are ; 


That it is in several parts, that it admits of no obbligato 
instruments, and that its subjects are set to a text of the 
Bible or to a verse of a hymn. Hence it follows that the 
period of its fullest bloom fell within the first great period of 
art, reaching to about the year 1600, when music was 
essentially polyphonic, vocal and sacred. Under the suc- 
ceeding period of the transformation of the polyphonic 
system into the harmonic, and the swift and comprehensive 
extension of instrumental music which was inseparable from 
that change under the endeavour after some more passionate 
musical expression that should follow the words more exactly, 
and the introduction of solo voices, the motett gradually 
became the neutral ground where the most dissimilar ten- 
dencies thought they might tread unhindered. I am here 
speaking more particularly of Germany, where the impulse 
communicated by the Protestant Church gave birth to a far 
greater abundance of forms than in Italy. 

Heinrich Schiitz, in other respects an important repre- 
sentative of the new school, had, in his Musicalia ad 
Chorum Sacrum, endeavoured to reconcile its requirements 
with the principles of the old (compare No. IV., " Verleih 
uns Frieden gnadiglich," and No. VII., " Viel werden 
kommen von Morgen und Abend "). But it was inevitable 
that the intrinsically polyphonic character should be more 
and more neglected, that musicians should strive to com- 
pensate themselves for what they thus lost in intrinsic 
inner fulness by a freer flow of melody, more sprightly 
rhythm, and more highly spiced harmonies. To make their 
application possible it was necessary to have recourse to the 
supporting instruments. Then observation was directed to 
the novel effects of the body of sound thus produced, and to 
the possibilities of new combinations. Many of the effects 
discovered, though purely proper tp instruments, were even 
transferred to vocal music. Many motetts of the seventeenth 
century are inconceivable without the accompaniment of the 
organ or other instruments. This may be seen by the pro- 
gression of the bass part, which not unfrequently lies above 
the tenor, and would make the harmony quite unrecog- 
nisable if it were not supplemented by a sixteen-foot organ 


bass. It is perceptible, too, in the unchecked introduction of 
many harmonic progressions which would be unendurable 
in the delicate organism of purely vocal music, but which 
escape detection under the rush of the organ and of the 
orchestra. And many sudden changes of harmony e.g., 
that of an eight-part chorus in A major which changes into C 
minor without preparation are impossible to perform with- 
out firm points of support. Not unfrequently the accompani- 
ment of the organ or of other instruments is indicated by 
means of a figured-bass or continue. And even where the 
character of a motett seems to demand the unmixed sound 
of human voices, it still is easy to perceive that the fancy of the 
composer was full of musical forms, which vocal music by its 
inherent nature could not represent. The dramatised biblical 
scene, which Schutz and Hammerschmidt had introduced, 
and the custom of placing side by side, in contrast, verses 
of chorales and scriptural passages, in a sacred concerto 
or madrigal of which Hammerschmidt was very fond were 
also a reflection from the motett. A four-part chorus (with- 
out soprano) begins with the words from the Revelation, 
which are supposed to be said by Christ : " Siehe ich stehe 
vor der Thiir und klopfe an ; so jemand meine Stimme horen 
wird und die Thiir aufthun, zu dem werde ich eingehen " 
" Behold I stand at the door, and knock," &c. After nine 
bars have been sung, the soprano answers with the melody of 
the Christmas Hymn, " Vom Himmel hoch " " From highest 
Heaven," to the words " Bis willkommen, du edler Gast " 
" Be thou welcome," during which the chorus continues its 
summons. The contrapuntal working of a chorale tune on 
the organ had also an unmistakable influence on this form ; 
nay, it was through this that it gradually came to more artistic 
perfection, so that, in fact, a hundred years later, instrumental 
music by the use of its own means reintroduced the poly- 
phonic structure which had so long been set aside in its 

But the motett was suited to more complicated dra- 
matisation. An anonymous composition for double chorus, 
which must be attributed to about the middle of the 
seventeenth century, lies before us in manuscript. First, 


the choruses inquire of each other antiphonally in the 
words of Sulamith, " Habt ihr nicht gesehen, den meine 
Seele liebet ? " "Saw ye Him, whom my soul loveth?" 
Cant, iii., 3. Then the second choir changes to the 
chorale, " Hast du denn Jesu dein Angesicht ganzlich ver- 
borgen?" " Hast Thou, O Jesus, Thy countenance utterly 
hidden ? " the first continuing its questions meanwhile and 
during the pauses between the lines of the hymn, in which 
questioning the second choir joins again, after the conclusion 
of the verse. " Da ich ein wenig voriiberkam " " It was but 
a little that I passed from them " begins the second choir, 
and the first, without soprano, repeats it; "Da fand ich! 

da fand ich! da fand ich! 

den meine Seele liebet ! " the soprano now comes in on 
rejoicing intervals ; both choirs quickly seize upon this 
exclamation and carry it on to the end in exulting cadence ; 
and as if filled with beatific assurance, the second choir 
enters once more with the last verse of the chorale, " Fahr 
hin, o Erde, du schones, doch schnodes Gebaude, fahr hin, 
o Wollust, du siisse, doch zeitliche Freude " " Farewell, 
for ever, oh earth ! for thy joys are but seeming ; farewell 
all pleasure though sweet, thy delights are but dreaming." 
The first choir answers, " Ich halt ihn, ich halt ihn und will 
ihn nicht lassen ! " " I held Him, and would not let Him 
go," and thus at last they are united in broadly developed 
harmony. Another motett resembles a dramatised church- 
cantata of Hammerschmidt's in poetic aim, and partially in 
its plan, and may indeed have been suggested by it. It is the 
Dialogue between the Angel and the Shepherds on Christmas 
night (Hammerschmidt, Musikalische Gesprache, Part I., 
No. 5.) This master makes the angel announce the joyful 
event of Christ's birth with the accompaniment of the organ 
and two small cornets, which announcement is interrupted 
by the chorus of the shepherds with their joyful excla- 
mations. Then the shepherds receive the command to go 
to Bethlehem, where they arrive and worship the Christ- 



child in the words of Luther's Hymn, "Merk auf, mein 
Herz, und sieh dort hin" "Ponder, my heart, and gaze 
herein," interrupted again and again by the arousing 
summons of the angel; and they conclude with the hymn 
" Ehre sei Gott in der Hohe " " Glory to God in the 
highest." The composer of the motett begins with the 
chorus of the astonished shepherds, "Ach Gott, was fur 
ein heller Glanz Erschreckt uns arme Hirten ganz" "O 
Lord, a wondrous shining light Fills us poor shepherds 
with affright," and the clear soprano voice of the angel 
comes in at intervals with the words "Fiirchtet euch nicht" 
" Be not afraid," and goes on with the subjoined joyful 
cry of the chorus, which reminds us of Hammerschmidt 

Sie - he ich ver - kun - di - ge euch, 

sie - - he ich ver 

1 &-^ 

.. J 1 j 

_J J-J-l 

f 3 

1 III 

Gro - sse, gro-sse Freu - de 

J. j J 

i 1 ' /~> try 

"Behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy." Angel 
and chorus answer one another for a time, and then unite 
in a lively fugato, " Die allem Volk widerfahren wird " 
"Which shall be to all people," until it ends in a 3-4 
arioso movement, " Denn euch ist heute der Heiland 
geboren " " For unto you is born this day a Saviour." 
That the words of the angel are, in the course of the 
movement, unhesitatingly given without any alteration to 
the chorus, is suitable to the declamatory style, since all 
that is demanded of it is to indicate the event in the 
merest outlines, so that the music may go on its own way 
without restrictions. 89 

At last the motett overpowers the chorale in such a way 

89 The three motetts quoted as examples are taken from a volume of old 
compositions of the kind, which I acquired years ago from a village-cantor of 
Thuringia. It contains a great number of good pieces of this kind, of the 
end of the seventeenth and beginning of the eighteenth centuries, besides much 
of a more modern date. Unfortunately the names of the composers are hardly 
ever given, so that possibly some of them may be attributed to Michael Bach. 


as to disconnect the individual lines of the melody, distri- 
buting and repeating it between the choruses and the solos, 
playing round some of the sections in the manner of variations, 
or using it for little imitations, and so step by step dissecting 
the whole. 

Hammerschmidt has treated the last verse of the hymn 
"Wie schon leucht'tuns der Morgenstern" "How brightly 
shines the morning star " in this way for double chorus, 
and indeed in an excellent manner in the fourth part of his 
Musikalischer Andachten geistlicher Motetten und Con- 
certe (G. Beuther, Freiberg, 1646), under No. XXII.; by 
the addition of a figured-bass, which strictly follows the lowest 
voice, the accompaniment of the organ is expressly allowed. 
The first and higher choir begins by delivering the two 
first lines in 3-1 time, the second line being already treated 
in imitation and prolonged by a bar ; then the other choir, 
consisting of the lower voices, takes it up, but extends the 
second line by imitations from the original four bars to eight ; 
the first line is then thrown from one choir to the other 
several times, during which they deviate into other keys; 
the second line is repeated, and they unite and con- 
clude with the third line in eight parts. The whole first 
section is then repeated exactly as it is in the hymn. The 
second section begins with the words "Amen, amen! 
Komm, du schone Freudenkrone," &c. "Come, thou 
fairest crown of gladness," in a still richer and more 
varied form, flowing on in the last line with massive 
grandeur in an artistic and effective eight-part progress, 
such as from the middle of the century became rarer in the 
German composers. 90 If we add, moreover, that the com- 
posers sometimes appended a sacred aria for several voices 
to the motett as a kind of coda ; nay, that even Hammer- 
schmidt once called a collection of songs for one and two 
voices, with accompaniment," motetts," our opinion namely, 

An attentive examination should be made of the beautiful motett treated in 
the same way, for double chorus, in this collection (No. XXL), on the chorale 
" Ich hab mein Sach Gott heimgestellt " "I have consigned my care to 
God." Michael Bach also set the last verse of the same hymn at the end of 
his motett, " Unser Leben ist ein Schatten " " Earthly life is but a shadow." 


that the motett always admitted of accompaniment would 
seem to be supported by a concurrence of evidence of the 
most various kinds. But the form of the motett became 
by this means a very uncertain one, and when, at the 
beginning of the eighteenth century, the definitions of 
Opera, Oratorio, and Sacred Cantata were established, 
and the art of organ-playing reached its full development, 
it almost entirely lost its distinguishing characteristics. 
It carried on an apparent and nominal existence, decked 
out by further loans from instrumental music and the 
church - cantata, and sometimes wholly coalescing with 
the sacred aria. Had the composers understood how to 
do anything more with this form, there was special oppor- 
tunity for it in Thuringia, where the choirs of proces- 
sional singers have shown signs of vitality even in the 
present century, and where we might expect to find the 
proper refuge of the motett, even when the impertinent 
temerity of the musical world presumed to mock at it as a 
stage they had left behind. 91 It was here also that the 
independent songs for two or three solo voices were intro- 
duced into the motett. But its time was past. Only 
Sebastian Bach could still create anything really original 
and powerful in this branch of music, and yet the full 
majesty of his motetts can only be appreciated when accom- 
panied by instruments, and especially the organ ; without 
such an accompaniment, it is only a very admirable per- 
formance that can make them appear otherwise than deficient 
in style. 

Of the motetts of Michael Bach twelve have been col- 
lected. Much that was in the possession of his great- 
nephew, Philipp Emanuel, consisting of sacred arias, for solo 
or for several voices, has not yet come to light again; but, on 
the other hand, five pieces have been found which were not 

91 F. E. Niedt, Musikalische Handleitung, Part III., edited by Mattheson, 
(Hamburg, 1717), p. 34 : "I leave the explanation of the motetts to those 
Thuringian peasants who have inherited them from Hammerschmidt's time, 
just as the Altenburg peasant girl inherits her boots from her ancestors, or the 
Spaniards their short cloaks.' 1 


known to Philipp Emanuel. 92 Only two of these are without 
chorales. The one, " Sei nun wieder zufrieden, meine 
Seele " " Now again be thou joyful, O my spirit," in A 
minor and in common time, is for double chorus with organ 
accompaniment, 98 and is one of the less successful works of 
the composer. A number of clever details cannot blind us 
to the planless and restless character of the whole, nor com- 
pensate for the monotonousness of a persistent homophony. 
Bach has followed his text sentence by sentence. This pro- 
ceeding was endurable in the polyphonic style of composition 
of previous centuries, when the artistic entwining of inde- 
pendent or imitative parts satisfied the demands of art, for 
unity in variety, by placing them side by side rather than 
one after another. But the more homophonic a compo- 
sition is, the more must it satisfy our craving for coherence 
and harmony, by symmetry in the length of the phrases and 
by attention to the due connection of the keys, particularly 
in a work of purely lyrical nature, such as that lying before 
us. The incoherence of the structure naturally spoils the 
noble and devout fundamental feeling which the composer 
evidently wished to give to the whole. Hammerschmidt 
succeeded in producing a work much more in accordance 
with the rules of art to the same words (Part IV. of his 
Musikalischer Andachten, No. 4), of which the end reminds 
us of Bach, and which was certainly known to him. 

The second, a six-part motett in D major, common time, is 
designed for New Year's Day. The manuscript, which has 

M These hitherto unrecovered compositions are, according to the catalogue of 
the musical legacy of P. E. Bach, in the Royal Library of Berlin, as follows : 
" Auf lasst uns den Herrn loben," for alto and four instruments. " Nun ist alles 
iiberwunden," an aria for four voices (Arnstadt, 1686). "Weint nicht um meinen 
Tod," ao aria for four voices, 1699. " Die Furcht<les Herrn," &c., for nine voices 
and five instruments. In the three last the composer is not named, but by the 
arrangement of the catalogue they appear to be by Michael Bach. Two other 
anonymous compositions will be mentioned below. 

93 So it is, at least, in the edition of F. Naue (Neun Motetten fur Singchore 
von Johann Christoph Bach und Johann Michael Bach [in three books] ; 
Leipzig, Friedr. Hofmeister. Book I., No. 3), according to a version unknown to 
:ne. In the archives of the Bach family it was arranged with four accompanying 
instruments, supposing it to be identical with an anonymous motett included in 
'hat on the same text. 



been preserved, has a notice to the effect that the parts for it 
were to be written in E flat major. 94 Thence it follows, as 
indeed is probable from the character of the piece, that it was 
to be accompanied by instruments (probably strings) as well 
as by the organ. The pitch of the organ differed from that of 
the instruments by a semitone, so that its D was really E flat. 
For the chorus it was, of course, a matter of indifference 
what the signature of the parts might be, since the pitch 
by which the lead was regulated was given by others ; but 
this was not the case with the instruments, which, according 
to the custom of the time, had to play from the copies of the 
singers. The construction of this motett, which sparkles 
throughout with festal brightness, is homogeneous. It con- 
tains seventy-four bars, and is divided into two prin- 
cipal sections, the last of which is repeated, whereby a 
feeling of roundness is given. Contrapuntal combinations 
are not exhibited here, but a few charming effects of sound 
are employed in preference : in the first place, the con- 
trast of a bright soprano solo voice, supported only by a 
viola, with the full colouring of a deep body of sound, for 
four-part chorus ; then an interesting movement of the upper 
parts in arpeggio style, of which the full value is brought out 
by the conjunction of the strings, while the lower voice pro- 
ceeds in a joyful passage of semiquavers. 

Lobt ihn mil vol- len, vol - len Cho - ren, mit vol - len, vol len 

Lobt ihn mit vol 

len, vol 

vol - len Cho - ren. (repeated in a lower position, and then with all the voices.) 


len Cho - ren. 

94 The collection of ninety-three motetts (in score) of the beginning of the last 
century, in the Royal Library at Ki/nigsberg (13,661), No. 37. The title says 
" In Stimmen ex Dis" (in the parts D sharp), as E flat was still called until the 
beginning of this century. Similar notices are also found in other pieces. 


The echo-like alternation of forte and piano introduced at 
the close an effect of very frequent occurrence in the motett 
of the time betrays the influence of the organ-style ; it is 
not founded on the nature of the human voice, which is 
capable of the greatest variety of gradations of tone. 

The ten motetts that are interwoven with chorales are 
more developed. First comes a five-part composition with 
organ, on the words from Job : " Ich weiss, dass mein 
Erloser lebt " " I know that my Redeemer liveth," after 
which the chorale" Christus der ist mein Leben " "Christ, 
who is my life " enters in the soprano part. 95 For these 
ideas Bach had deeply affecting tones at his command. The 
four lower voices are alone for the first sixteen bars of the 
movement, which consists in all of only forty-one bars (in 
G major, common time), the alto, which has the melody, 
surprising us by its rapturous intensity of expression, the 
free individuality of which is enhanced by the fact that 
instead of two phrases of two bars each, which would have 
resulted from a naturally simple declamation, here three bars 
are contrasted with three bars. The passage to the words 
" Und er wird mich hernach aus der Erden wieder aufer- 
wecken " " And He will wake me again from the earth " 
(according to the Lutheran version), ascending and sinking 
again with such deep feeling, reminds us of the most beauti- 
ful things that ever came from the imagination of Johann 
Christoph, his elder brother. At the seventeenth bar the 
chorale comes in almost imperceptibly, and moves quietly in 
minims above the lower parts, which have more movement, 
and which several times, especially in the pauses, soar upwards 
with longing to the words " Denselben werde ich mir sehen" 
" Whom I shall see for myself." A certain harmonic com- 
bination in great favour with Michael Bach is used here 
several times with striking effect, namely, the chord of 4 , the 
fourth being suspended and its resolution delayed. It must 
be admitted, however, that this work is far from absolute 
perfection. The melodic progression which is indispensable 
in homophonic writing is wanting in the inner parts; 

Naue, B. I., No. 2. 


the tenors remind us of the two viola parts in the five-part 
disposition of the strings then in vogue, which were only 
put there to complete the harmonies. It is very awkward 
when a part, in order to avoid a false progression, suddenly 
pauses for a whole crotchet-beat, as in bar twenty-three; the 
obviousness of its purpose makes it all the worse. Moreover, 
it is not without falsities of intervals : the consecutive fifths 
in bar thirty-seven, between the bass and second tenor, 
may indeed easily be altered, but instances of the same 
kind appear too often in the works of others nay, even of 
the most celebrated composers of the time, e.g., Pachelbel 
and Erlebach for us to suppose that it did not come from 
the hand of the composer himself. 96 One principal reason 
for such licences has been given above. The following 
generation certainly strove after greater severity ; but in the 
development of great vocal and instrumental masses even 
Handel and Bach were sometimes self-indulgent. 

Another essential deficiency is that the musical contrast 
between the four-part chorus set to the Bible words and the 
chorale-melody is not preserved enough. Hence, as both fac- 
tors are associated, hardly any contrast is discernible but that 
between the different rhythms of the two sets of words, which 
of course demand different rhythmical treatment; besides, 
the lower parts are properly nothing but the meagre har- 
monic basis of the chorale. We might almost think that 
the artist had cared by preference for the poetic duality, 
which certainly can greatly intensify the sentiment even by 
the simplest combination, because the individual feeling 
kindled by the Bible words flows in unison with the devo- 
tional and congregational feeling. But this assumption is 
not altogether safe, for though at that time poetic contrasts 
were in great favour, it was because the musical technique was 
hardly equal to any better solution of such problems. Contra- 
puntal dexterity among the Germans in the latter half of the 
seventeenth century was on an average very small, and it is 

96 Even Heinrich Schiitz did not hesitate sometimes to introduce consecutive 
octaves in music for many voices: e.g., the fourth bar of the six-part motett, 
" Selig sind die Todten " " Blest are the departed " Between the second 
soprano and second tenor. 


a great mistake to imagine the composers before Bach and 
Handel as absorbed in those learned intricacies of art, into 
which these two masters were the first to breathe a real 
vitality. In this respect they had little to learn from 
their predecessors. It was otherwise in Italy, where the 
traditions of the great vocal writers of the sixteenth century 
had never been cast off, where the transition to the new tone- 
system proceeded very gradually, and the requirements of the 
church services, as well as the natural bias of the nation, 
gave no rest to the incessant elaboration of broad and highly 
artistic vocal forms, until after the middle of the eighteenth 
century. It was in this that Handel laid the foundations of his 
contrapuntal supremacy ; while Bach acquired his through 
organ music, which was already perceptibly showing signs of 
life, though it was left for him to bring it to full maturity, 
and then to transfer it to vocal music blended with instru- 
ments. If Johann Christoph Bach has done anything of 
great excellence in the form of the chorale-motett, it is, as 
we shall soon see, a sign of surpassing talent on the part 
of himself alone. Amongst a very complete selection of com- 
positions of that style and date, which I have seen, there is 
not a single one which surpasses Michael Bach in contra- 
puntal treatment, and indeed all the other defects that might 
be mentioned do not attach solely to him. 

But the striking expression which insures for the last- 
named motett its full effect, even in the present day, belongs 
to him alone. He was, indeed, not altogether a complete 
master, but an artist-soul, full of deep feeling and lofty divi- 
nation. 97 

Greater praise is due to the motett "Das Blut Jesu 
Christi, des Sohnes Gottes, machet uns rein von alien 
Siinden" "The blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanseth 
us from all sin," with the chorale verse "Dein Blut der 
edle Saft" "Thy blood, the precious wine," from Johann 
Heermann's hymn, " Wo soil ich fliehen bin," for five 

97 C. von Winterfeld thinks he finds an affinity, of which, however, I can dis- 
cover no trace, between Michael Bach's motett, " Ich weiss dass mein Erloser 
lebt," and a similar one by Melchior Frank. (See Evangelischer Kirchengesang 
III., 430.) 


voices in F major, common time, containing eighty-three bars 
on a similar plan to the foregoing. 98 The chorus of the four 
lower parts is less syllabic, and richer in counterpoint, and 
the separate parts flow more melodiously ; towards the end 
we find increasing passion, and a repetition of the two last 
lines of the chorale, whereby the whole is satisfactorily 
finished and rounded off. The development of subject, which 
would give the chorus unity in itself, is very slight, it is true ; 
the organism of the whole has not yet risen to full existence. 
But the deep feeling of the composition overcomes us with 
irresistible power, and one forgets the imperfection of the 
body in the beauty of the soul which shines through. 

A work in five parts, to words that have been often set, 
and in particular have been used for a very beautiful 
motett by Wolfgang Briegel, " Whom have I in heaven 
but Thee, &c.," in B flat major, in 3-4 time, 125 bars in 
length, offers an example of thoughtful, artistic considera- 
tion." To this and the following verse of the Psalm Bach 
has added five verses of the hymn "Ach Gott, wie manches 
Herzeleid" " Ah, God! how many pangs of heart," in the 
manner of the former motetts, and in such a way that 
in the course of the piece the contrast, poetical as well 
as musical, between the upper and lower voices vanishes 
more and more, and at the end all are at last united in the 
last verse of the hymn, " Erhalt mein Herz im Glauben 
rein" "Keep Thou my heart in faith unsoiled." The 
previous verses are arranged in this order: 13, 5, 6, 15. 
The four-part chorus is at first as independent as possible, 
with energetic declamation, adorned with different melodic 

98 Naue, Book II., No. 5. He has added a figured-bass, which is not indicated 
in the catalogue of P. E. Bach's musical legacy. The date is here, 1699, which, 
unless it is a mistake of the transcriber's or printer's, must only mean the year 
in which the copy was made, for the composer was dead at that time. This 
circumstance considerably takes away from the authority of the dates which 
are affixed in the catalogue to the other compositions. 

99 Naue, Book II., No. 6, with a figured-bass, which is absent in the index of 
the Bach archives. Briegel's motett, which is quite unlike it, has been newly 
edited by Fr. Commer, in his Geistliche und weltliche Lieder aus dem XVI.- 
XVII. Jahrhundert (published by Trautwein, in Berlin), pp. 80-85. 



modifications, indicating already, by some most expressive 
entwinings of the inner parts, that breath of ecstasy which 
often breaks forth in so overwhelming a manner in the 
Chorale hymns of Sebastian Bach ; and even some subject 
developments are attempted. At the fifty-sixth bar a change 
takes place. The words of the Psalm come in : " My flesh 
and my heart faileth ; but God is the strength of my heart, 
and my portion for ever " : then comes the simple paraphrase 
of the hymn, "Ob mir gleich Leib und Seel verschmacht, so 
weisst du, Herr, dass ichs nicht acht," &c. 

Six bars before the entry of the chorale the first bar of it 
is gone through in the other parts and worked as a separate 
subject, as if for a prelude 

Chorale. , . 

Ob mir gleich Leib und . . Seel . . verschmacht, 

Treated as separate theme. 

wenn mir gleich Leib, wenn mir glrich Leib, gleich 

i i. 

wenn mir gleich Leib, wenn mir gleich 

and is carried on with imitations. A similar passage occurs 
before the entrance of the fifteenth verse, which follows next; 
then the alto melts away gradually from its own independent 
movement quite into the chorale, 100 the rhythmic unity be- 
comes greater, until at last the Bible words end altogether. 
The whole of the last verse is taken in a quicker and more 
joyful tempo, and thus the subjective expression is altogether 
swallowed up in the more general feeling of the hymn. 
Here we perceive an undoubted germ of the spirit of Sebastian 
Bach, a presage of his inexhaustible art in the poetic treat- 
ment of the chorale. But the imitations which prepare for 

100 The same thing happened before at bar thirteen, but in that place from a 
want of skill. The lower harmonising, too, of bars eleven and twelve (and the 
corresponding bars thirty-six and thirty-seven) betray an imperfectly cultivated 


the first bar oi the melody are exactly like Michael Bach's 
chorale arrangements for the organ ; under suitable poetic 
influence he has transferred to vocal music the same method 
which he had practised in them. 

Four motetts for double chorus are worked out on the 
equally balanced resources of the contrast offered by 
chorale and Bible words. Two of them are alike even 
in the details of the plan, and the third agrees in all 
essential points: all three are in E minor and in common 
time. The deeper four-part choir begins homophonically 
with the words from the Bible, and then the chorale 
enters, the spaces between its lines being occupied by the 
second choir. Two verses are gone through in this manner, 
and then both choirs unite in harmony of from five to 
seven parts, in such a way that the lower choir repeats the 
last note of each line like an echo. The poetic combination 
in one case consists of Hornigk's hymn, "Mein Wallfahrt 
ich vollendet nab " " My pilgrimage is at an end," verses 
i, 3, 6, with the words from the New Testament, " It 
is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judg- 
ment. . . . The wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is 
eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord." In the second 
case, the words are taken from verses i, 4, and 5 of Johann 
Franck's "Jesu meine Freude " "Jesu, my joy," and 
the text " Hold fast that which thou hast, that no man take 
thy crown . . . and be thou faithful unto death, and thou 
shalt receive a goodly inheritance and a crown from the hand 
of the Lord "; and lastly, in the third case, the words are 
from verses i, 6, and 5 of Flitner's hymn, " Ach was soil ich 
Sunder machen " "Ah ! what shall I, a sinner, do ? " and 
the scripture passage, "Thou, which hast shewed me great 
and sore troubles, shalt quicken me again. The Lord will 
not always chide, but He will repent and have mercy upon 
us according to His great goodness." The fourth is formed 
on a somewhat different model (in C major, common time, 
115 bars long). It has the same contrast as its motive, but 
it is only employed for one verse, and then the first choir is 
drawn into sympathy with the freer treatment of the second, 
so that in this case it comes to pass, as very seldom happens, 

F 2 


that the sentiment is changed from the congregational to the 
personal devout feeling from objective to subjective. And 
this tendency is indicated from the beginning. The touching 
and beautiful death-chorale, " Ach wie sehnlich wart ich der 
Zeit, wenn du, Herr, kommen wirst " " Ohow long I for the 
time when Thou, O Lord, shalt come" acquired no extensive 
popularity as a congregational hymn, possibly only by reason 
of its entirely subjective stamp. Michael Bach harmonises it 
in a plain, and even childish, but unspeakably touching way. 
In the last verse the individual feeling bursts its bonds in 
the recurring sigh, which seems to long for death, "O komm! 
o komm ! o komm und hole mich ! " " O come, O come, O 
come and fetch me ! " And now both choirs ascend and 
compete with each other on the cry " Herr, ich warte auf 
dein Heil" "Lord, I wait for Thy salvation," and come 
back at last to the final line of the hymn, to expire in 
beatific peace. This is probably the finest of all Michael 
Bach's motetts. 101 

The process is almost reversed in another motett for 
double chorus, for Christmas (in G major, common time, 
seventy-three bars long). The choirs unite in the angel's 
words, "Fear not, for behold, I bring you good tidings of 
great joy," &c. Then all the altos, tenors, and basses have 
a mysterious movement in four or five parts, "For unto you 
is born this day a Saviour," and at last the chorale 
" Gelobet seist du, Jesu Christ" "All praise to Thee, Lord 
Jesus Christ," is added in the soprano like a flash of light. 
Round this the other voices gather, in fresh, if not very 
broadly treated counterpoint. 102 

The motett for double chorus, "Nun hab ichiiberwunden" 

101 In the Amalien- Library in the Joachimsthal at Berlin. Vol. 116, last piece: 
Vol. 326, last piece: Vol. 116, last piece but two: ditto, last piece but one. 
The first and fourth motetts have a figured-bass. The entry in the catalogue 
of the Bach archives is: "Ach wie sehnlich, &c. Fur den Discant, 5 Instru- 
mente und Fundament von Johann Michael Bach." I think that our fourth 
motett is intended by this notice, considering the carelessness with which the 
index is made. The expression " 5 Instrumente und Fundament " is strange 
and suspicious. 

102 Amalien-Library, Vol. 90, first piece. Without figured-bass. 


" Now I have conquered," (in G major, common time, ninety- 
two bars long), 103 is characterised by the extension and 
ornamentation of a chorale-verse by means of the full body 
of the chorus. That the composer knew Hammerschmidt's 
arrangement of " Wie schon leucht't uns der Morgenstern " 
above mentioned, and set it before him as his model, is 
probable from external and internal considerations. Ham- 
merschmidt's works were widely known, and, as has been 
already said, existed in the choir library of the Oberkirche 
at Arnstadt. This very piece has what the others have 
not in the figured-bass part direction-marks carefully 
written in with red ink, besides other proofs of the closest 
study, for the bars have been counted and their sum noted 
down at the end. In structure Bach's motett shows an 
affinity with the older master, particularly in the taking 
up of the chorale verses, which continually modulate into 
different keys, by each choir alternately; on the other 
hand the close is quite different. It is again the lovely 
melody of Melchior Vulpius, to the no less fervent hymn 
" Christus der ist mein Leben," that Bach chooses for 
treatment, here taking the third verse of the hymn. 
The piece, both as a whole and in detail, is one of the 
best which have been preserved of this gifted composer. 
Exception may, indeed, be taken to the declamatory opening 
(Choir I., " Nun ! " Choir II., " Nun ! " Choir L, " Nun, nun, 
nun, nun ! " Choir II., ditto) : these isolated cries are calcu- 
lated to increase the musical interest rather than to raise 
the verbal sense, and the composers of that time were very 
fond of beginning their motetts in this manner. 104 The 

103 Naue, Book III., No. 8. A figured-bass is added, of which the Bach 
archives say nothing. According to them the motett was written in 1679, 
when Michael Bach was thirty-one years old and Organist at Gehren. 

104 E.g., " Ich ! ich ! ich ! ich will den Namen Gottes loben " (I will praise 
God's name), or "Uns! uns! uns! uns ist ein Kind geboren " (Unto us a 
Child is born), and others. Sebastian Bach, when, true to his family traditions, 
he began one of his earlier cantatas " Ich ! ich ! ich ! ich hatte viel Bekum- 
merniss" (translated, in Novello's edition, "Lord! Lord! Lord ! my spirit was 
in heaviness," literally, I, I, I, I was in deepest heaviness), incurred 
Mattheson's scorn. 


feeling of happy confidence is given by the music, which 
rises occasionally to the most joyful and martial courage, 
particularly in the energetic and intermittent cries, " Kreuz! 
Kreuz, Leiden! Kreuz, Leiden, Angst und Noth ! " "The 
cross, the cross ! sorrows, sufferings, trouble, and fear ! " 
where we are reminded of the bold challenges in the fifth 
number of Sebastian Bach's motett "Jesu meine Freude!" 
"Jesu, my joy." When the whole verse is finished 
the two choirs coalesce in a simpler form, and the melody 
comes in as a cantus firmus in semibreves in the soprano 
part, while the other voices have a more artistically worked 
counterpoint than we are accustomed to in Michael Bach; 
the counterpoint in the first line is actually formed from the 
fourfold diminution of the melody itself, and in the other 
lines the formation of real subjects which imitate one 
another is attempted. 

A last and most remarkable work still remains to be 
noticed, in outward form the longest and in inward cha- 
racter the most varied. 105 This is also for double chorus, 
but now six parts (two sopranos, alto, two tenors, and 
bass) are placed in antithesis to three (alto, tenor, and 
bass). The six-part choir starts (in C major, common time) 
sternly and gravely with the first two words of the passage, 
" Unser Leben ist ein Schatten auf Erden " " Life on 
earth is but a shadow." After six bars the voices are 
suddenly seized with an anxious haste ; the first soprano 
glides upward with this flying figure 


Un - ser Le - ben ist ein Schat 

a pause, in which there is a long drawn wail in the alto ; 
then the restless passage again ; now it vanishes away in an 
inner part, like a ghost one expects to see unsubstantial 
cloud-shadows hurrying over a mountain steep. Then the 

105 Naue, Book III., No. 7. In the catalogue of Ph. Em. Bach's legacy 
the date is 1696. As Michael Bach died in 1694, this cannot refer to the time 
of composition. 


whole choir begin a perplexing whirling dance, first of quavers, 
then of quavers and semiquavers together, as when an autumn 
wind whirls up the dry leaves ; now they dance in the air, 
now again on the ground, then on high again ; then all is 
still and in the interval the death-knells are heard; again 
the ghostly passage glides before our sight, and once more 
come the dismal chords of mourning. 

Un - ser Le -ben ist ein Schat 


Un-ser Le-ben ist ein Schat - ten, ein Schat- ten, ein 

Un - ser Le -ben ist ein Schat - ten, ein Schat- ten, ein 

ten, einSchatten, em Schat 

Schat-ten, ein Schatten, 


auf Er - den, 

Who does not feel in this fantastic picture the romantic 
spirit of Sebastian Bach? Now, for the first time, the other 
chorus enters with the fourth and fifth verses of the ehorale 
"Ach was soil ich Sunder machen," the peaceful flow of 
which is twice disturbed by the intervention of the first 
choir; its spiritual meaning culminates in the words " Und 
weiss, dass im finstern Grabe Jesus ist mein helles Licht, 
meinen Jesum lass ich nicht" "And know that Christ my 
way shall lighten, In the grave where all is dim, I will trust and 
cleave to Him." As if for the confirmation of this trust, the 
words of Christ Himself are heard in the first choir in three 
parts, "I am the Resurrection and the Life," lasting for 
twenty-seven bars; and the second choir answers confidently, 


"Weil du vom Tod erstanden bist, werd ich im Grab nicht 
bleiben" "Since Thou art risen from the dead, the grave 
can never hold me," interrupted by corroborating phrases 
from the first choir, which is again in six parts. But we 
shall be mistaken if we think that the motett closes with 
this peaceful consummation. Deep down in the composer's 
mind lingers the gloomy picture of universal human mor- 
tality. Accordingly the affecting chorale begins again in full 
harmonies: " Ach wie nichtig, ach wie fliichtig ist der 
Menschen Leben! " leading up to a marvellous end : 

Ach Herr, lehr uns bedenken wohl, 
Dass wir sind sterblich allzumal, 
Auch wir allhier keins Bleibens han, 
Miissen alle davon, 
Gelehrt, reich, Jung, alt oder schon. 

O teach us, Lord, to bear in mind 
That we may die at any hour. 
Here we have no abiding place, 
We must all pass away, 
The wise, rich, fair, old, or gay. 

The sad melody is given to two high soprano parts in 
thirds, which are followed by the lower voices, and three 
lines are treated in this impressive way, "dividing the bones 
and marrow." With the fourth line a fearful haste seems to 
thrill through the whole body of the chorus; they crowd 
together anxiously, like the souls on the brink of Acheron ; 
"Davon, davon!" "Away, away!" is murmured through 
the ranks, " Davon !" resounds from the depths, " Davon !" 
is repeated by the two sopranos as they vanish in the 

In this motett Michael Bach, as usual, not seldom 
came in execution far behind his intentions. It was left 
for another of his race to bring to perfection that of which 
he only had an indistinct perception ; but possibly a still 
higher place among the masters of his craft might have been 
allotted to him had he not in the flower of his years fallen a 
victim to that universal destiny whose tragic element he had 
so deeply felt in art. But one thing is very remarkable in this 


composition, that it is almost entirely cast in the mould of 
the church-cantata ; just as, on the other hand, the single 
existing church-cantata of this writer bears upon it the 
stamp of the motett. The Church Cantata sprang indeed 
from a juxtaposition of separate passages of scripture and ot 
verses from congregational or devotional hymns. Until the 
year 1700 this form alone predominated, and we shall pro- 
ceed later on to discuss .what had been already done in 
this way before Sebastian Bach developed it to its fullest 
perfection. It was after that date that recitative and the 
Italian form of aria began to be introduced into it, and it is 
well known how the cantata thus enriched owed its greatest 
improvements to Sebastian Bach. We see plainly, even in 
Michael Bach, how, in the music of the latter half of the 
seventeenth century, the most widely differing germs lay 
close to one another, soon to grow apart according to their 
individual tendencies. He was one of those phenomena 
that are wont to appear as the heralds of a new era in art, 
round whom the breath of spring seems to hover, and who 
make amends for what they cannot themselves perform by 
that which they foreshadow. 

But the elder brother, Johann Christoph Bach, to whom 
we must readily grant the place of a master in concerted 
choral music, also left us a series of specimens in the motett 
form. Although it is true that unconditional perfection is 
impossible to man, still there is this standard for " master- 
ship," qualified as it must ever be : Whether the artist can 
perfectly assimilate with his own conceptions the sum total 
of the ideas and means called forth by the requirements of 
his time, and can satisfy those demands of art which remain 
at all times valid. In the motett it was needful to combine 
into a higher unity a multitude of disconnected factors ; to 
turn to account the acquisitions of instrumental music, but 
with such moderation that only a tempering gleam should be 
cast by them on the smooth surface of pure vocal music ; to 
recognise the harmonic tone-system, but with constant re- 
gard to the fact that the motett form had its roots in the 
polyphonic system of past centuries; at every moment to 
refer the movement of the choral masses to the guidance of 


the melody which soared above them, and yet not to forget 
that those inferior parts are individuals with a right to a 
progression of their own. It was needful to form that musi- 
cal system which, by means of a law only to be tested by 
feeling, interweaves the severally divided parts into a rational 
whole, and, at the same time, to make due allowance for 
the reasonable demands of the co-operating poem. And, be- 
fore all else, the task was to gain for that subjective warmth 
and intensity of feeling which is the art-characteristic of the 
time, and which appears touchingly, if not very powerfully, 
in its devotional poetry to gain for this its due place in the 
province which was particularly its own, without overstep- 
ping that fine and fluctuating line which separates individual 
feeling from general precision. All these requirements, 
which to this day continue paramount in sacred vocal com- 
position, were then new ; and though their fulfilment seems, 
in some ways, still harder nowadays, when musical material 
has so vastly increased for few, indeed, succeed in moving 
with artistic freedom in the narrow domain of vocal music 
on the other hand this is rendered easier by the amount of 
experience which has been collected. 

But that Job. Christoph Bach completely solved this prob- 
lem no intelligent person can doubt ; his motetts seem as 
though they might have been written yesterday. He bears 
the same relation both in this and in his compositions in 
the oratorio style to his predecessor, Hammerschmidt, as 
the latter for his part does to Schiitz. Not one of them 
could have been what he is without his predecessor, and each 
one in his turn took a step in advance ; so much so that in 
the motett Job. Christoph Bach seems to have reached a 
height beyond which even Sebastian could not go, excepting 
by building up a towering edifice of art ; while the Oratorio, 
the Passion Music, and the Church Cantata did not reach 
perfection till a generation later, although they presuppose 
the existence of such remarkable men as this Eisenach 
master was in his way. If this great master was taken 
little heed of and quickly forgotten, this is explained by 
saying that the highest goal which the artistic spirit of 
the age pursued with quick and happy success was not the 


motett form. Indeed it could not be, depending as it did 
on such manifold compromises. That, however, ought not 
to prevent historical investigation from assigning to him 
his due position in the development of art, from lament- 
ing the disappearance of the greatest number of the com- 
positions of this master, or from placing the few that 
remain in the right light as a genuine monument of native 

In the musical legacy of Sebastian Bach's second son, 
so frequently alluded to, were seven motetts by Job. 
Christoph Bach, or rather eight, since we can with 
tolerable certainty ascribe one without a name to him; 106 
of these four are lost, not for ever it is to be hoped. 107 Five 
more motetts have been preserved in other ways, and are 
well known. After the oratorio-like composition already 
alluded to has been deducted, there remain eight motetts, 
a still smaller sum total than in the case of Johann Michael. 
Their internal importance is, indeed, quite different. 

First, two small and simple motetts are to be considered, 
each in five parts, consisting of a moderately long chorus 
followed by an aria of several verses. 108 The one has for 
its subject the text, "Man that is born of a woman is of few 
days and full of trouble." Job, xiv. I. It belongs to the 
same category as Michael Bach's " Unser Leben ist ein 
Schatten," and, although less full of fancy is full of deep 
feeling. A weary, mournful tone pervades the first move- 
ment, which is twenty-two bars long. It begins thus : 

108 This last is the motett in four parts with a figured-bass, ' Ich lasse dich 
nicht " " I will not let Thee go," which can be no other than the end of the 
original work of Joh. Christoph's for double chorus, " Ich lasse dich nicht, du 
segnest mich denn" " I will not let Thee go except Thou bless me," which 
we shall speak of later on. 

107 These are, according to the catalogue, " Meine Freundin, du bist schn," 
a wedding-song in twelve parts. " Mit Weinen hebt sichs," in four parts with 
fundamental bass, 1691. "Ach, dass ich Wassers genug," for alto solo with 
accompaniment of one violin, three viol di gambas, and bass. " Es ist nun aus," 
a death-song in four parts. 

IDS Preserved in an old MS. in the possession of Herr Steinhauser, Organist 
of Miihlhausen, in Thuringia. 

7 6 



Der Mensch, . . vom Wei- be ge - bo - ren, lebt ei - ne kur - ze 


Der Mcnsch, 

vom Wei- be ge - bo - ren, lebt ei - ne kur - ze 







- ne. 

kur - ze 






- ne 


kur - ze 



To the true motett movement succeeds a five-part aria, of 
the same character, but of more expressive melody, of which 
this is the first verse : 

Ach wie nichtig, 

Ach wie fliichtig 

1st das Leben, 

So dem Menschen wird gegeben. 

Kaum wenn er zur Welt geboren, 

1st er schon zum Tod erkoren. 

Ah how weary, 

Brief but dreary, 

Full of anguish 

Are our days ! On earth we languish ; 

Hardly are we born to sighing 

Ere we are condemned to dying. 

The two last lines recur as a burden after each of the five 
verses. At the beginning of each verse, three times over, two 
short ejaculations alternate with each other; to these the 
composer has closely clung. The result is a phrase of three 
and two bars, by which the character of weariness is inge- 
niously stamped on the piece. I have not been able to 
discover who was the writer of the hymn, which of course 



is quite distinct from Michael Franck's " Ach wie fltichtig, ach 
wie nichtig." 

The words in the Revelation ii. 10, " Sei getreu bis 
in den Tod, so will ich dir die Krone des Lebens geben " 
" Be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of 
life," are taken as the subject of the other motett. It begins 
broadly and confidently : 


Sei ge - treu, 
I I I 



Sei ge - treu, 

Sei ge - treu, 

i -4 f = 






- ' f 

ge - treu, 

*- sei 

ge - treu ! 

^ J J"3 J 



S"c^-r r 


sei . 

F F 

. ge - treu ! 


ge - treu, 


At the words of the promise the motion becomes more 
cheerful, and the opening phrase is repeated at the end : the 
whole movement is only twenty bars long. The aria which 
follows, " Halte fest und sei getreu " " Be thou faithful, stand 
thou firm," consists of four verses ; its opening intentionally 
reverts to the beginning of the first movement. 

Both these motetts are undoubtedly early works by Joh. 
Christoph. They have not the grand features and the breadth 
of structure which mark all the other six, nor does the treat- 
ment of the parts display the skill and smoothness which the 
master subsequently succeeded in acquiring. Still we feel 
in them the stirring of a peculiar and profoundly meditative 
fancy; and this, the gift of his nationality, he trained under the 


best masters, not merely at his father's instigation, but from 
his own inclination as well; since we know that at an early 
age he already held an official position, and was consequently 
independent. Nor did he seek to learn only from the two 
principal German masters: he went back to the masters from 
whom they had learnt the Italians. This is proved by his 
incomparable superiority to his contemporaries as a skilful 
contrapuntist, his more flowing and vocal treatment of the 
inner parts, the lovely smoothness of his melodic ideas, and 
his harmonic peculiarities, which must be directly referred to 
the church music of about 1600, as, for instance, the suc- 
cession of triads following each other over a descending bass 
a means of expression for which Hammerschmidt seems 
to have had no predilection. 

As we learn from the master himself, one of his six great 
motetts, "Lieber Herr Gott, wecke uns auf" "Lord God! 
Lord God! wake thou us," was composed by him at the age 
of thirty. 109 In this he proves himself already a ripe artist. 

This beginning 

with its beautifully accented melody and admirable declama- 
tion, which so exactly hit the expression of fervent filial sup- 
plication, could hardly have been invented by any one else. 
Bach's motett has no resemblance whatever to Schiitz's 
composition to the same words (Musicalia ad Chorum Sacrum, 
No. XIII.). He must, of course, have known it, and may even 
have derived the text directly from thence, for it is not 

IOB The autograph in the Bach collection of the Royal Library at Berlin bears 
the superscription " Motetta &. 8 Foe: 1 ' at the emi is noted " 121 bars"; below 
the stave in the right hand corner "Eisenach ao 1672, Xbris. Joh. Christo. 
Bach org." Under the vocal parts is a figured-bass ; the writing is fine and 
elegant, and the bars marked off with a ruler. This motett has been recently 
published by Naue, Book II., No. 4. 


biblical but comes from some church prayer; but the sug- 
gestion of his having borrowed from it must be altogether 
dismissed. 110 It is, nevertheless, interesting to note how, 
within a quarter of a century, the style of the motett has 
developed, how it has all become much more plastic and 
pleasing, how the expression is much more clearly defined, 
the phrasing more careful, and the progress of the whole 
more flowing. Schiitz still clings, as is natural from his 
historical position, in some degree to the traditions of the 
past, particularly in the uninterrupted connection of the suc- 
cessive ideas of the motett, while Bach, in full possession of 
the new harmonic tone-system, can dispense with these 
means in constructing a coherent whole, and proceeds by in- 
dependent phrases. Such an arrangement must, of course, 
be all the more prominent in a composition for double chorus, 
because this depends essentially on the responsion of the two 
bodies, and only expands to a simultaneous employment of 
all the voices at each climax. After the second chorus has 
repeated the three bars here given, 3-2 time is introduced, and 
the composition proceeds in that measure through four 
sections, to the words " Wecke uns auf, | dass wir bereit 
sein, wenn dein Sohn kommt, | ihn mit Freuden zu 
empfahen | und dir mit reinem Herzen zu dienen " " Rouse 
Thou us up | that, when Thy Son comes, we may be 
glad | to receive Him with rejoicing, | and with pure hearts 
to worship and serve Thee." The third of these is most 
broadly worked out ; bar after bar, through thirty-five bars, 
the body of sound flows up and down between the two 
choruses, full of vigour and in a glorious stream of move- 
ment, particularly in the bass parts, where the direct influence 
of the Italians is again perceptible. And in the final fugue, 
which returns to common time, a warm breath of southern 
beauty seems to prevail, tempering and illuminating the bold 
outline of a conspicuously artistic structure. 

This is, besides, an interesting example of the fugue form 

no Winterfeld, in his Ev. Kir. III., 429, seems to hint at something of the 
kind. Schiitz's composition has been lately edited by Neithardt: Musica 
Sacra, Vol. VII., No. 8. Bote and Bock, Berlin. 


as it was now becoming modified out of the old type. The 


i c 


durch den - sel - bi-gen dei - nen lie-ben Sohn, die 

when we look at the whole movement, is evidently in the 
modern key of G major ; the answer, however, does not follow 
according to rule, by which the beat, G, in the first bar would 
be answered by a D in the corresponding place in the re- 
sponse ; but the composer copies the manner of the old school, 
which attaches the principal importance to an exact corre- 
spondence of the separate intervals, and consequently often 
regards it as unnecessary to give prominence to the relations 
between the tonic and the dominant. Hence, Bach does not 
answer his theme thus 




- sel 

- bi-gen 

=P fcr- 
dei - nen 


- ben Sohn,| 

but thus 

aEC-i= i J. JJ i J j= 

durch den- sel -bi-gen dei- nen lie -ben Sohn, 

in the Mixolydian mode ; the old and the new schemes of har- 
mony are here mingled to form a very remarkable tonality, 
which prevails throughout the fugue, with its dependence on 
the sub-dominant. The close treatment between the upper 
voices is also in the old style; this is introduced quite 
at the beginning, and at each return of the subject it is 
repeated with a definite intention ; indeed throughout the 
motett the principle of close imitation is mest ingeniously 
worked out. The multiplicity of complete or half closes, 
after which the elaboration begins afresh, are an indica- 
tion of mere want of development; even the instrumental 
fugues of that period are still cumbered with this imperfec- 
tion, and it was precisely by his power of setting free an 
unbroken stream of melody in the fugue, by constantly and 
unexpectedly introducing the theme, and intermediate sub- 
jects developed from it, that Sebastian Bach was to give 


glorious proof of his genius, and fulfil the highest conceivable 
requirements of the fugue. 

To return to the artistic construction of the fugue now 
in question, the theme is adapted not only to a threefold 
stretto imitation, but in the first stretto (beginning on the 
third crotchet of the first bar) to a double counterpoint 
on the octave and tenth. In order to allow of all the 
strettos being brought in, the composer in the course of 
the piece has somewhat altered the theme, and the melodic 
phrase of the second bar is taken down a third ; still the 
identity of the theme is not in any way interfered with by 
this remarkable evidence of episodical modification, while 
the way is opened for a great richness of combinations. 
This begins from bar twelve of the fugue, which is steadily 
elaborated into closer and closer strettos ; it is brilliantly 
conspicuous in the startling introduction of the theme in 
counterpoint on the tenth, is confirmed by the majestic 
doubling of the tenth between the bass and tenor of the 
second chorus, ard flows on in richer and richer harmonies 
of the whole eight parts to a half close in the twentieth 
bar, on the dominant of E minor. Immediately the entrance 
of the voices is repeated as at the beginning, but the simi- 
larity is only apparent, because the recently modified form 
of the theme is here employed, allowing of a different order 
of modulation ; and the tones soon resolve themselves once 
more in the splendid crescendo just described, repeating it 
even more elaborately, and closing in grand fulness on bar 

The year of composition of another motett is also known 
to us. It is on the words from the Book of Wisdom, iv. 
7, 10, n, 13, and 14 "But though the righteous be pre- 
vented with death, yet shall he be in rest " (five voices, 
in F major). This, according to the testimony of Phil. 
Emanuel Bach, is of the year 1676, and thus four years 
later than the former one. 111 

i The MSS. handed down by Ph. Em. Bach are in the Royal Library at Berlin. 
The same musician has had the voice parts accompanied by stringed instru- 
ments and the organ, as is proved by the instrumental parts prepared by his 



The relationship to Italian music is here even closer, and 
the evident resemblance with a beautiful motett by Giovanni 
Gabrieli, " Sancta Maria succurre miseris" can hardly be 
wholly accidental. The diatonically ascending motive in the 
last movement in Bach in Gabrieli from bar sixty-two (com- 
pare also bars thirty-seven to thirty-nine) point to a real 
relationship; so again do figures such as bars eight to twenty 
of Bach (twenty-four to twenty-seven of Gabrieli) with the 
identity of key and similar points of agreement throughout 
the piece; and finally though this, to be sure, is less inde- 
pendent evidence, but is supported by other resemblances 
the occurrence of the proportio tripla after the diminished 
tempus imperfectum in Gabrieli and Bach alike. 112 That the work 
of the German master may, in spite of this, be extremely 
original, need not be said, and that it is so this very com- 
parison proves. A genius which is capable of filling in a grand 
outline displays itself, as Bach has done, in illustrating each 
portion of the text. The piece is at once so complete and so 
ample, and contains such a wealth of contrasting details, 
that the effect of the whole is equally soothing and ani- 
mating. Unspeakably beautiful is the sentiment of the first 
movement the beatification of the righteous who, by an 
early death, are snatched from all the ills and dangers of an 
evil life, and have attained eternal peace; the softly falling 
passages represent the departure of the righteous, with all 
that figurative power of imagery which the composer so emi- 
nently possessed. But it is not a weary drooping like that of 
a withered flower ; the full and solemn tones sink like rain- 
drops slowly falling and sparkling from the leaves in the last 
evening gleam. The second subject is in strong contrast to 

own hand. The composition has been published by Naue (Book I., i), with the 
organ accompaniment; also by Neithardt, Musica Sacra, Vol. VII., No. 14. 
It must be the same which was in the possession of Reichardt, and of which he 
praises the power and boldness (vide Gerber N. L., Vol. I., col. 207). 

118 The merit of having first pointed this out is due to Winterfeld (vide 
Ev. Kir. The motett by Gabrieli (a Venetian), here spoken of is to be found 
in Winterfeld's book, Gabrieli und sein Zeitalter. Berlin, Schlesinger, 1834; 
III., 24-28. We must proceed carefully in finding resemblances at such 
remote intervals of time; still in this case the observation seems to me to 
be accurate. 


the holy peace of the first. It rises in joyful and stirring 
passages, " Er gefallt Gott wohl und ist ihm lieb " "He 
pleased God, and was beloved of Him," and it moves 
steadily onwards through a whole series of various ideas 
and musical images. Here again we have to admire the 
expressive power of the composer who could with such 
certainty reproduce the mental pictures suggested by the 
words, as at a later period, and in a greater degree, was 
done by Handel. Observe only the musical subject to the 
words "Und wird hingerucket " "Yea, speedily was he 
taken away" ; how it soars straight up into heaven, and how 
immediately afterwards the wickedness and perversity of 
the world is stamped on the energetic succession of har- 
monies, the suspensions and displacements of accent, and 
after this distressful and sorrowful ganglion of harmonies, 
the clear triads flash out, " He, being made perfect, in 
a short time fulfilled a long time." And then comes the 
perfect pacification of the wild and passionate turmoil in 
the last movement, which flows on, broad, full, and perfect, 
a river of gold. The motive which governs it throughout, 
elaborately worked out, flowing from its source with ever 
increasing fulness and depth, seems to rush from the dark 
places of the earth towards regions of light : 

Da - rum ei - let er mit ihm aus de 

jfc -&^=* 

!'<- Da - rum ei 

- let er mit ihm aus dem 

M-j; Q 


' * V r V* r \~ 

Da - rum ei - let er n 





G 2 


" Therefore hasted He to take him away from among the 
wicked." It is borrowed from Gabrieli, but what with 
him is only musical, in Bach's hands and this was his 
original gift is poetical as well as musical. 

If we take the term " romantic " elastic as it has become 
in its application in its original meaning, and understand 
by it a mixture of certain elements of a phase of culture, 
complete in itself, with others which have a tendency to 
overstep its limits and to reach a dimly perceived goal, 
no word can better suit Joh. Christoph Bach, particularly 
with regard to his scheme of key treatment. The old 
church modes were sometimes combined by him with the 
modern system of majors and minors in a quite indefinable 
manner, and this gives rise to a series of broken lights, 
a singular chiaroscuro, whence these motetts often derive 
an undeniable family likeness to the productions of Schu- 
bert and Schumann. Even the final fugue of the motett in 
E minor, just discussed, is very striking in this respect ; 
but the romantic character is far more conspicuous in two 
other motetts for double chorus. One of them is founded on 
the words of old Simeon, "Lord, now lettest thou Thy ser- 
vant depart in peace." 118 The principal key, or more properly 
mode, as regards the more prominent closes of the phrases, 
may be termed ^Eolian, with a plagal commencement and 
close ; and yet with this the piece is carried out in such a 
thoroughly modern style of harmony, and is rounded off into 
a cycle, with a return to the beginning so regularly according 
to the present principles of form, that it might almost be said 
to have no fundamental mode. Mingled with the ^Eolian har- 
monies, now and then Dorian and Mixolydian intervals strike 
the ear; but above all, the wavering between the old and new 
systems of key is to be seen in the general manner in which 
Bach's harmony progresses. We must use this expression, 
since throughout the whole piece the composer deals with 
sequences of chords. The raising and lowering of single 
notes were regarded by the ancients as accidentia inci- 
dental changes which had no further effect on the character 

See Appendix A, No. 5. 


of the key, while with us they sometimes make it uncertain, 
sometimes entirely change it, and always have an essential 
influence on the affinities and relations of a chord. Under 
these circumstances it was a matter of indifference to the 
older writers whether G minor and E major followed each 
other directly, or G major and E minor, while to us the last 
two keys stand in the closest relationship, and the two former 
are separated by a gap which only the boldest can leap 
across. Now Bach frequently raises or lowers a note in the 
old manner, but constructs sequences of chords in the new ; 
hence a series of triads frequently originate, well adapted 
to rouse in our minds every feeling of a fundamental key. 
The waves of sound rise and fall in wonderful tremulous 
motion ; they gleam and sparkle in a strange variety and play 
of harmony ; they seem to obey every breath, and often 
illustrate the expression of the words by modulated turns of 
extreme audacity, such as we seek for in vain among the 
composers of the following century, nay, even in Sebastian 

After a close in the common-chord of E major, for in- 
stance, Joh. Christoph, with two steps, brings himself into 
F major, E minor, C major, A minor, F major, and, imme- 
diately after, by means of the common-chord of C major, into 
G major. Another time he introduces the following sequence 
in eight parts: A major, B flat major, A minor, G major (|) 
C major, and then proceeds : A major, B flat major, F major, 
C major, F major, with which the phrase closes. It is quite 
amazing how, in spite of this, we never have the oppres- 
sive sense of aimless and planless wandering in the modu- 
lations, but give ourselves up in perfect confidence as to 
a trustworthy leader. The musician reveals his idea as a 
whole with such clearness, and develops it with so much 
logic, that we receive an image, dreamlike indeed, and floating 
in mist ; but, at the same time, we realise that this is exactly 
what its creator intended. In fact, when studying other 
compositions by Joh. Christoph Bach, which betray the defi- 
nite stamp of a major or a minor key, we can never for a 
moment doubt that, to him, the mingling of two different 
systems of harmony was a means of which he availed himself 



with deliberate purpose to attain a determined end. This of 
itself stamps him as a master, although not a dozen of his 
vocal compositions have been preserved to us. In the same 
way Sebastian Bach, although indeed under quite altered 
circumstances, handled the old church modes freely as a 
powerful instrument of expression. We need only recall the 
overwhelmingly grand use made of the Mixolydian mode in 
the cantata " Jesu, nun sei gepreiset " 114 "Lord Jesu, now 
be praised." 

How admirably suited this medium is when the object is 
to represent and to render in a general and artistic form the 
frame of mind of an old man, who at last has found the 
certain pledge of a long looked-for day of redemption, and 
whose failing eyes see the radiant dawn of a new sun, must 
be felt by every one. The chorus first sing alternately the 
initial bars, and then imitate each other at the interval of a 

Herr! Herr! nun las-sestdu deinen 

j_^ J J J J J 

Die-ner in Fr 


eden fah - ren. 

"^ Herr! 


.sL^, JJ Jil 

r r-f i 

Herr! nun 




Immediately follows an extraordinarily beautiful passage, 
part of which has been already mentioned 

t-- ^ 

in Frie - den, in Frie - den fah 

114 B. G., X., No. 41. Particularly in the opening chorus. The passages on 
pp. 6, 7, and 18 are indescribably sublime. 



wie du ge - sa - get hast, 

J- _. JL J. , , 

wie du ge - sa - get hast, 
J _. J4- LL 

-sa- get hast, 

! I . I 


f r r i ' r I ' 

du, wie du ge - sa - get hast, wie du, wie du ge - sa - |get hast. 

J _. I J J LI J =,. ! I ! I 

du . . ge - sa - get hast, wie du . ge - sa -get hast. 

and from which it may be inferred that this motett was con- 
ceived of with an instrumental accompaniment (perhaps only 
with the support of one deep instrument) ; for in these exces- 
sively long-drawn passages in F major, where the bass of the 
first choir descends below the c of the second, the full effect 
could hardly have been attained without a sixteen-foot organ 
bass. The further course of the composition is difficult to 
represent, by reason of its abnormal management, without 
extensive extracts, and even then the reader would scarcely 
acquire a more vivid idea of the whole than he may perhaps 
have obtained from what has already been said. 

The long-drawn ascending passage on the words " And to 
be the glory of Thy people Israel " is full of a mild dignity; 
it closes in the true ^Eolian tone, if I may so say. But now the 
real formative power of the artist is first fully displayed. He 
first reproduces the whole thirty-four bars of the beginning, 
thus arriving at C major, and now, taking a deep breath, 
rises again with the original motive from the shadowy 
common-chord of F major, brings out again the full volume 
of both choruses in imitation, rises twice to the bitter-sweet 
D minor chord of the ninth or as it would then have 
been called, from its resting on the third, the chord of the 
seventh, an harmonic combination which was just coming 
greatly into favour with the Germans and then sinks softly 
down on to A minor as the head of a dying man sinks on the 


pillows. It does but picture the failing eyes before whose 
last glance all worldly objects float in confusion the last 
sigh borne away into infinite space when, after this, the 
chorus passes tremulously and dubiously to the major chord 
of the sixth ; and so the last cry of " Lord, Lord!" floats 
away, evanescent and faint, on the same notes as the master 
began the piece with. 

The other motett, allied to this in form and feeling, is the 
grandest of all that remain to us. On the words of Lamenta- 
tions, v. 15, 16, "The joy of our heart is ceased ; our dance is 
turned into mourning. The crown is fallen from our head : 
woe unto us, that we have sinned," a grand and gloomy 
tone-picture is constructed, of no less than two hundred and 
twenty-five bars of slow movement. We may regard the 
mode as a transposed Dorian, which, as in the previous motett, 
has a plagal beginning and close. Sebastian Bach proved 
his admiration of this piece by transcribing part of it with his 
own hand. 115 For variety, energy, and appealing fervour of 
expression for the development of sound into bold and 
striking imagery for the highest perfection of form as 
affecting the whole work, it can find no equal excepting 
among the very best examples of its kind. What deep 
lament is sounded in this beginning 

J -J- -J- IrJ 


r r 

Un-sers I- 

J J = 

i r == 

erz-ens Freu - 

J -L J. 

i-ri-rr r 'T- 

de hat . . ein En - de, 

J J T J^jfl 

^r r r'i- 

115 The score is in the Royal Library at Berlin. There, too, is another copy 
in the handwriting of Polchau. R. von Hertzberg published the work in 
Vol. XVI. of Musica Sacra, No. 18. (Berlin : Bote and Bock.) 


8 9 

and further on, amid the wofullest accents, what a noble 
strain of melody 

CHOR. 2. 

CHOR. i. 

Un - ser 

^ . ^ J 1 J 

I p 

Ife *r 

r 1 r r r ^ 

r | f 

EJ^ r fJ ^=- 

Un - 

ser Rei - gen ist in Weh kla gen 


i i A A A ^s-^ ~&- -zL ^ ^- hj 

Rei - gen ist in Weh 

I I . i i 



bJ J ^ 



ir r r 

II u 

-f H^ ^ 


I I 

Un - - 


J J. 

J. * J^J 


J J 


' :: F "4P 

C C 1 i Hr? 

1 1 

. : 

No other composer of that period could have availed him- 
self of such " longue haleine" in uttering the words " The 
crown is fallen from our head," for thirty-nine bars are 
devoted to it; and how proudly, how royally, the motive 
starts ! 

Die Kro 

ne un - sers Haupts 

None other could have been equal to depicting in so 
pregnant a manner the pride of ambition and its crushed 

When Forkel, the enthusiastic admirer of Sebastian Bach, 
once visited his son Philipp Emanuel at Hamburg, his host, 
who held his great-uncle's works in high estimation, let 
Forkel hear some of them. " I still vividly remember," he 
writes, "how sweetly my friend (Ph. Em. Bach), already an 
old man, smiled upon me at the most remarkable and boldest 


passages." Harmonious sequences such as the following- 

! II 

ireh, dass wir, &c. 
-1. ! . J 

weh, dass wir, &c. 


were indeed calculated still to excite astonishment a hun- 
dred years after they were composed ; at the end of the seven- 
teenth century they were quite unheard of. Philipp Emanuel 
possessed a motett, written about the year 1680, but now 
lost, in which Joh. Christoph had used the augmented 
sixth, which Forkel very justly terms an act of daring. 116 
The use of this interval was, to be sure, not wholly new ; it 
occurs before this in Carissimi's oratorio of Jephtha and in 
his " Turbabuntur Impii," 111 but, on both occasions in solo 
voice parts, while Bach seems not to have shrunk from it 
in a choral subject. 

The main outline of the motett we are studying ap- 
proaches far less nearly to the form of the da capo air, then 
in process of development, than it does, on the contrary, 
to the modern sonata form, and may therefore be designated 
as the product of Joh. Christoph's independent artistic 
study. Two quite distinct principal parts are each subdivided 
into two, a principal and a subsidiary section. The first prin- 
cipal section is composed of four long phrases (the motives 
of three of them are quoted above), and it ends in G minor. 
The first subsidiary section begins with a passage, also 

116 Vide the Necrology in Mizler's Musikalischer Bibliothek. Leipzig, 1754. 
Vol. IV., Part I., p. 159. Gerber has somewhat embellished these facts in his 
Lexicon, Vol. I., col. 206-7. 

117 For the first example see Chrysander's edition of Carissimi's oratorios in 
Denkmalern der Tonkunst, II., 19, in the last bar but one (f dj, for so the 
harmony must be imagined) ; the second instance is in R. Schlecht's Geschichte 
der Kirchenmusik, p. 452, bars four and six, so far as the data are, in this 
case, to be trusted. 


quoted, " O weh ! dass wir so gesiindiget haben," and in its 
whole character is the most complete contrast, ending with a 
half-close on the major chord of D. The second part now 
begins ; it repeats the principal section of the first part, but 
lets the wailing cry of the first subsidiary section now glide 
alongside by side with the most diversified combinations, and 
now force its way through them, thus including in this grand 
design, which reveals an extraordinary artistic intelligence, 
both the development of the sonata subject and the repeti- 
tion of the principal theme after the close, which, as in 
the first part, is in G minor. The subsidiary section comes 
in again in due order, and this time with a wonderfully 
beautiful effect in B flat major. It is not till the fifth bar 
that it assumes the same form as at its first appearance. A 
coda of six bars brings it to an end. 

There are still two motetts remaining which, in conse- 
quence of the use made in them of chorale melodies, must 
take a quite distinct place. They are, however, very dis- 
similar. An example was given above which showed how the 
dialogue form, worked out with so much predilection by 
Hammerschmidt in his sacred concertos, had been transferred 
to the motett. Joh. Chr. Bach's vocal composition in five 
parts, "Fiirchte dich nicht," 118 in A minor, is of this kind. 
Alto, two tenors, and bass sing, as if in the person of Christ, 
the Bible text " Fear not : for I have redeemed thee, I have 
called thee by thy name ; thou art Mine." Isaiah, xliii. i. 

Against this the soprano afterwards sings the last verse of 
Rist's tfymn, "0 Traurigkeit, o Herzeleid." 

O Jesu du, 

Mein Htilf und Ruh, 

Ich bitte dich mit Thranen, 

Hilf, dass ich mich bis ins Grab 

Nach dir moge sehnen. 

O Jesu ! Thou 

My hope and rest, 

With tears I bend before Thee ; 

Help! that I in life and death, 

Ever may adore Thee. 

118 It is to be found in a MS. of the last century in the Am alien -Library 
of the College of Joachimsthal in Berlin, Vol. CXVL, No i. The MS., which 
also shows a figured-bass, is unfortunately far from accurate. 


When it comes to the last line but one, the voice of 
Christ answers with the words, "Verily, verily, I say unto 
thee, this day shalt thou be with Me in Paradise." It is 
clear that two separate individuals are here represented 
in a dramatic dialogue. Thus the composer must have 
looked upon the four lower voices as a compact unity, 
allowing the soprano to stand out in contrast with the 
necessary distinctness ; and if we had just now to criticise 
Michael Bach's chorale motetts, because the counterpoint of 
the other voices is not always treated with due independence 
of the chorale melody, any such demand is here to a certain 
degree set aside by the general plan of the composition 
itself. Bach has, moreover, succeeded in giving the mass of 
tone produced by the four voices the character of an indepen- 
dent organism, full of an inner life of its own in its contrast 
to the chorale, and has thus produced a real masterpiece of 
its kind. 

The distribution of the music is, as we are accustomed to 
find, clear and masterly, even under these circumstances of 
extreme difficulty. It is in three sections. At first the four- 
voiced choir sing the Bible words alone for thirty-nine bars. 
They begin at once with a vigorous and encouraging shout, 
and then work out on this theme 


r J 


dich bei dei-(nem) 



hab dich 

bei dei - nem Na - men 

u ^ 

ge - ru 

- (fen) 

a fugato for all four parts, allowing sometimes two, sometimes 
three, sometimes only one voice to ring out on the word " geru- 
fen," with long held chords and notes in a mighty cry, while 
the theme here quoted constantly comes in again with small 
intentional alterations a passage well worthy of Handel, 
and reminding us of him in its simple grandeur. It closes 
with this in C, the relative major, and then leads back to 
A minor by a subject constructed on the words " Du bist 
mein," which is particularly interesting for the imitation 
between the alto and second tenor. 
This is the first part ; the second extends to the commence- 


ment of the fourth line of the chorale, and contains twenty- 
four bars. Here what is highly worthy of admiration is the 
way in which the two poetic individualities are kept distinct ; 
for example : the soprano coming in on the closing chord of 
the chorus carries on the first line of the melody alone; 
the chorus reappears at first only in short phrases and 
ejaculations, but presently returns to the motives and 
passages of the beginning, already known to the hearer, 
and which, though they contrast as strongly as possible 
with the melody of the choral, still flow as smoothly 
into it as though it had been devised expressly for them. 
The grandest dramatic emotion is reserved with subtle 
foresight for the third part, thirty bars long. To the 
reiterated cry of the soprano for " Help," the lower voices 
answer with equal insistance, " Verily, verily," &c., and by 
numerous imitations of each give this agitated passage a 
fervency adequate to the occasion. I must resist the 
temptation to quote farther details ; it must suffice to say 
that all the peculiarities of the master are conspicuous in 
this work. 

If we compare it with Sebastian Bach's motett, "Fiirchte 
dich nicht" " Be not afraid," which is in great part set to 
the same Bible words, and in which, in the same way, a 
chorale melody with poetical antistrophes is introduced, it 
is quite clear that Sebastian Bach endeavoured to attain 
this art-ideal in quite another way than Joh. Christoph and 
his lesser contemporaries, and that his connection with his 
predecessors on this point is a merely general one. The 
elder Bach conceived of the two dramatically contrasted 
characters as two equally important factors, and endeavoured 
to represent their relation to each by musical means only ; 
the younger kept the voices which recited the Bible texts in 
contrast to the chorale not merely proportionate in volume 
but even too independent, since they worked out among 
themselves a perfect fugue demanding no supplementary 
aid, and to whose calm flow the floating fragments of the 
chorale melody might almost seem a mere accidental adjunct, 
were it not for the elevated symbolical meaning attributed to 
the chorale, which bears no direct proportion to its purely mu- 


sical value. But this, as we shall see in the next section of this 
book, is the view which in fact afforded the standard for the 
independent treatment of the chorale on the organ ; and 
it was by this route, so to speak via instrumental music, 
that Sebastian attained a type of art which J oh. Christoph 
had reached, starting from his own naturally poetic point 
of view. 

But if we here have had to deal with the dramatic contrast 
of distinct personages, in the other choral motett we find 
merely a lyrical contrast of emotional moods, such as we 
have already met with in several of Michael Bach's works. 
This motett (at first for two and afterwards for one choir) is 
now the best known of all this master's compositions. The 
Bible text is "Ich lasse dich nicht, du segnest mich denn" 
"I will not leave Thee till Thou bless me " ; in the second 
part the chorale, " Warum betriibst du dich, mein Herz," is 
interwoven with the third verse of Hans Sachs' hymn ; and 
this is done to such perfection that it might be supposed to be 
the work of Sebastian. 119 The matter in hand was a contra- 
puntal treatment of the chorale melody, with independent 
motives throughout; and we have already seen in Michael 
Bach's works how little adapted the clumsy style of the 
German musicians of that period was, on the whole, to the 
solution of such problems. Johann Pachelbel used the fifth 
verse of the chorale, "Was Gott thut, dasist wohlgethan" 
"That which God doth is still well done," as the basis of an 
elaborate composition of the concerto type, which he worked 
out smoothly and flowingly, but, for that very reason indeed, 
quite differently; for there is no contrast of the Bible text and 
church hymn, by which the fundamental feeling is first de- 
picted in all its depth, while at the same time it necessitates 
the most complete mastery over the technique of counter- 
point. It is distinct, too, from the above-named work 
by Sebastian Bach irrespective of the dramatic contrast 
by this radical difference in the tendencies of the two 
masters. Sebastian's forms were purely musical ; those 
of Joh. Christoph graphic and oratorio-like. Here, again, 

See Appendix A, No. 6. 


a comparison of the two works, tolerably alike as they 
are in design, is highly instructive. That of Sebastian 
is no doubt richer and fresher, but it depends essentially 
on the organ. Joh. Christoph, on the contrary, still 
stands on the native soil of the motett pure vocal style 
and gives due prominence to the human voice, with its 
greater capabilities of expression and all its natural poetic 
quality. There is, perhaps, no second work of this period 
in which tendencies, which subsequently diverged diametri- 
cally, were so happily and closely combined, and which, 
nevertheless, stands at the highest summit of art. The 
treatment of the chorale, with all the technical and aesthetic 
results involved, points to the way pursued by Sebastian 
Bach ; the graphic tone-imagery of the chief musical ideas 
points decidedly to Handel. Thus the first principal motive 
of the chorale counterpoint which has to serve again in the 
course of the piece in an inverted form at once depicts an 
urgent and instant entreaty 


las - se dich nicht, nicht, nicht, ich las - se dich nicht, nicht, nicht, 

while the second, on the contrary, coming in at first in the 
alto, with a passage of close imitation, 

nest mich denn, 

and then with rich modifications, as in the bass in bar 



nest mich denn, 

illustrates as by the breadth and fulness of an almost unmis- 
takable expression the mien of one who extends his hand in 
solemn benediction ; and at the same time all purely musical 
requirements are fulfilled in the most admirable manner. 
With what masterly contrast the motives are constructed, 
and how completely they, and they alone, command the 
whole composition ! What a perfect adaptation of musical 
means to poetic beauty in those three bars' rest in the 


middle, after the artistic complications ! a calm where the 
parts, hitherto contrapuntal, repose and dream, softly moving 
in a measure that is now merely declamatory. 

This motett, if indeed it is by Joh. Christoph Bach, 
certainly is one of his late compositions. The connection of 
the harmonies, particularly in the first deeply expressive 
part, is, if not bolder, at any rate freer and more subtle. 
The scheme of the melody is more individual, as, for in- 
stance, in the seventh (a' flat), in the nineteenth and 
twenty-third bars of the first section, which is taken by the 
soprano with an upward spring, a very novel venture in any 
choral composition of that time. Indeed, the key of F minor 
is unusual in the latter half of the seventeenth century. 
Finally, the whole bears the stamp of mild contemplation 
rather than of youthful eagerness or manly vigour, although 
it cannot be denied that Joh. Christoph, like his brother 
Michael, and indeed the whole period at which they lived, 
had a special leaning to the weird and dreamy. 



IT has been already said that even less has been saved 
of the instrumental compositions of Joh. Christoph and 
Joh. Michael Bach than of their vocal works. In point 
of fact, only a few fragments remain to bear witness of their 
undoubtedly great productiveness. But this branch of art 
is in itself so important deriving a double significance from 
its bearing on Sebastian Bach that we must seek every 
possible means of throwing light on this aspect of the two 
artist brothers. 

Both were by profession organists, and the art of organ- 
playing was indisputably the centre of all instrumental music 
till the middle of the eighteenth century, though it was in 
Thuringia and in Saxony that it principally flourished and 
finally even reached perfection; and this was because it found 
in the Protestant chorale a motive and basis for develop- 


ment, than which it is impossible to imagine one more fit. 
It was, then, in the treatment of chorales that a master of 
Central Germany first pioneered the road ; and, whether by 
mere accident or no, all that remains to us of the organ 
compositions of the brothers Bach are likewise treatments 
of chorales. The art of writing for the organ, which had 
been previously confined to a mere ornamental transcription 
of vocal compositions, in the beginning of the sixteenth 
century put forth the early buds of a characteristic blos- 
soming, with the first traces of a style peculiar to itself. In 
Italy Claudio Merulo found in the Toccata, as it was called 
a kind of composition in which he endeavoured to give full 
play to the wealth of tone possessed by the organ, by alterna- 
ting combinations of brilliant running passages with sos- 
tenuto sequences of harmonies a form which, if somewhat 
erratic and fantastic, was still highly capable of development. 
The first steps were taken towards the development of the 
organ fugue in the canzone of Giov. Gabrieli ; and Swee- 
linck, a Dutchman, gained great celebrity it would seem, 
particularly by his elaboration of the technique and by a 
great gift for teaching, and endeavoured to make the heavi- 
ness of the organ style lighter and more pleasing by skilful 
and graceful handling. Samuel Scheidt,the organist at Halle, 
was one of his pupils. In his Tabulatura nova (three parts, 
Hamburg, 1624), he first succeeded in treating the chorale 
as adapted to the organ in a very varied manner, and 
with considerable inventive power. These, the very earliest 
examples in so extensive and novel a domain of art, show 
marks, of course, of being a first attempt. A new path 
is opened out, and abundant means are brought in to 
level it ; but the practical precision and arrangement are 
lacking which would give the full value to each in its place. 
In the course of the century a whole series of well-defined 
and in themselves logical forms grew up for the treatment of 
chorales. Only a few of these are found in any degree pure 
in Scheidt, and those the most obvious; among them must be 
included the method by which the chorale is worked out line 
by line on the scheme of a motett, and, closely connected 
with this, the chorale fugue, in which Scheidt still clung 



evidently to the vocal style. 120 In most of the other forms he 
had indeed to emphasise the motives, though he applied 
them with arbitrary variety to one and the same subject. 

Thus the treatment of the first verse of the melody " Da 
Jesus an dem Kreuze stund " "When Jesus stood before the 
cross," from the first part of the Tabulatura nova, begins with 
a fugato on the first line ; then this first line goes up into the 
upper voice, the bass and alto singing it in canon. The 
interlude after the second line is independent ; after the 
third the interlude is strictly built upon the subject; and after 
the fourth there is another independent one. Pachelbel, 
Walther, or even Sebastian Bach would have developed four, 
or at least three distinct forms from this abundance of 
primary ideas. On another occasion Scheidt treats the 
chorale " Vaterunser im Himmelreich" "Our Father which 
art in heaven," Part I., v. i, in such a way as to introduce 
the first line in motu contrario as a prelude ; but as early as on 
the fifth note in a lower part the same line occurs in motu recto, 
then after four notes in motu contrario, at the same distance of 
time again in motu recto in the upper part, and finally once 
more, after the same interval of time, in motu contrario in 
the tenor. After this the chorale is carried on in the soprano 
part without interruption throughout, but with fresh counter- 
point to every line. It need hardly be remarked that with 
such a redundancy of good forms it is vain to look for 
clearness or unity of structure. Still it is evident that this 
does not diminish the merit of this master, who in fact created 
an epoch and who did all that could be done ; but it is 
significant as pointing out his historical position in the art. 

Any detailed account of the progress of the art of chorale 
treatment, as it was carried out after Scheidt into the second 
half of the century, is not necessary here ; nor indeed should 
I be now in a position to give it. The advance seems at 
first to have been small, and this is easily intelligible in the 
unfavourable circumstances of those times. Delphin Strunck, 

180 Examples of this are the fantasia on " Ich ruf zu dir, Herr Jesu Christ," 
Part I., fol. 239 ; the first verse of " Veni redemptor gentium," Part III., fol. 179 ; 
tru first verse of " Veni Creator Spiritus," Part III., fol. 179. The last piece is 
also given by Winterfeld, Ev. Kir., II., Musical Supp., No. 214. 


the famous organist at Brunswick, and a very popular teacher 
(1601-1694), followed in Scheldt's footsteps, without however 
arriving at any fixed principle of art from the constant 
treatment of chorales, judging from his compositions re- 
maining to us. It is probable that the treatment of the 
separate lines of chorales as the basis for motetts continued 
to be industriously cultivated ; for instance, the chorale, 
" In dich hab ich gehoffet, Herr " " My hope has been in 
Thee, O Lord," was set in this way by Johann Theile 
(1646-1724), who was almost a contemporary of Michael 
Bach's, and who was called, by reason of his great skill, the 
father of contrapuntists. 121 It is in four parts, and displays 
great science, for each of the four parts is treated in inde- 
pendent counterpoint, but it is intolerably pedantic and stiff. 122 
According to this, the type of the chorale fugue must have 
been established at an early date, if indeed we may apply 
the name to a fugal subject, derived from the first line of the 
chorale, at the end of which the second line still often 
faintly joins in. To this class belongs Heinrich Bach's 
admirable treatment of " Christ lag in Todesbanden " 
(already mentioned, p. 36). A contemporary of Joh. 
Christoph Bach's, Johann Friedrich Alberti (1642-1710), 
Organist at Merseburg, availed himself of the melody of 
*' lux beata Trinitas" for a series of three compositions of 
this kind. 123 We here find the form already highly developed; 
indeed, Alberti is regarded as one of the best musicians of 
that period. The first movement takes for the theme of the 
fugue only the six first notes, in a dotted rhythm which, 
in the course of its development, undergoes a few further 
variations. The parts are neatly and skilfully worked out, 
as they are in all the movements. The counterpoint, it is 
true, is generally note against note, not from want of skill, 
but only to reserve an enhanced elaboration for the following 
movement, while the return of the stretto, quite at the 
beginning of the third section, is, on the contrary, quite 

131 Adlung, Anl. zur mus. Gel., p. 184. Note m. 
182 Published by G. W. Korner in the Orgel-Virtuos, No. 65. 
123 These lie before me in Walther's handwriting. Comp. Korner's Orgei- 
Virtues, No. 65. 

H 2 


in the old style. The entrance of the theme is each time 
distinctly indicated by a pause before it, and short inter- 
ludes also afford a special preparation for it. Then the 
whole first line, in semibreves, constitutes the theme of 
the second verse, to which is added a short counter- 
subject in crotchets, repeated in double counterpoint. The 
theme recurs but four times in the whole movement ; it is 
heard, slow and majestic, through the stirring busy crowd 
of parts ; the counter-subject serves for long interludes, 
while it also accompanies the theme throughout the artisti- 
cally managed imitation. The third verse finally owes its 
enhanced effect to a fugal arrangement of the first line in 3-4 
time. A chorale fugue treated in a similar way to the second 
verse, in "Gelobet seist du, Jesu Christ" "All praise to 
Thee, Lord Jesu Christ," 124 is no less admirable. The 
counter-subject is first gone through by itself before being 
combined with the line of the chorale, and it consists of 
an idea complete in itself, so that a fully worked-out double 
fugue is the result. 

Johann Christoph Bach, following his natural bent, pur- 
sued his own path through this department of music, and, so 
far as we are now able to judge, never departed from it. The 
result was the same as with his vocal compositions. The next 
generation knew him no more did not understand him, and 
ignored him altogether. Comprehensive collections of cho- 
rale preludes made with his own hand by Walther, the 
lexicographer, Sebastian Bach's colleague at Weimar, include 
not a single piece by Joh. Christoph Bach, and do not even 
mention them. Eight such arrangements, some of them with 
more than one movement, are contained in a volume which 
was formerly in Gerber's possession, but which vanished and 
left no trace when, after his death, his valuable musical col- 
lection was dispersed. 125 By a happy accident, however, a 

" 4 Which is also extant in Walther's MSS. 

135 Gerber speaks of this volume in the Lexicon, Vol. I., cols. 208-209. The 
whole of the collection, however, was not lost. Part was purchased by Hofrath 
Andre, of Offenbach; compare the 'Catalogue CXII.,' 1876, issued by Albert 
Conn, of Benin ; particularly No. VI. Some of his collection is to be found in 
the Royal Library at Berlin. 


manuscript book of that time has been preserved with forty- 
four arrangements of chorales. Its contents were collected 
by the compiler for a special end, and, if the title it now 
bears is the original, the little work must have been pub- 
lished. 126 On this we shall have to found our judgment. But 
first of all it must be said that the case is here quite different 
from what it was when discussing him as a composer of vocal 
music. In that he had a grand tradition behind him, and on 
its broad surface he could unfold his own essential charac- 
teristics ; in writing for the organ he was treading on half- 
tilled soil, over a half-beaten road. All that he thus created 
in his isolated position is found, after due consideration, to 
be neither unworthy of his great talents nor in any contra- 
diction to the praise awarded to him, even as a master of the 
organ, by the later and greater members of his family. 127 
But one single man cannot do everything, and Joh. Christoph 
is a striking instance of how much we owe to the Italians, 
even in that most German of all forms of music, the organ 
chorale. A yearning after an ideal thoughtfulness, pro- 
found care for details these there was no need to borrow 
from foreigners ; but the sense of beauty as revealing itself 
in the frankest and grandest forms was needed to sustain 
and invigorate us ere we could create anything truly 
masterly. Such succour soon came flowing in from the 
south, but Joh. Christoph seems to have shut himself in 

116 This is a MS. of about A.D. 1700, in small oblong quarto, now in my posses- 
sion. The title is" CHORAELE \ welche | bey warenden Gottes Dienst zum 
Praeambuliren \ gebrauchet werden konnen | gesetzet | und | herausgegeben | 
von | Johann Christoph Bachen \ Organ : in Eisenach." (Chorals which may be 
used a.s preambles during Divine service, composed and published by J. C. Bach.) 
Below, to the right, is the name, now illegible, of the transcriber and owner. 
Bach's chorales constitute only the first part of the book, and then, in the same 
writing, follow a number of other chorale pieces. The book subsequently often 
changed owners, each of whom busied himself, according to his powers, in filling 
the pages that remained blank. Also we may conclude from this title-page that 
Walther's statement, that nothing of Joh. Christoph Bach's was printed, must 
be incorrect. 

127 The observation in the Musikalische Bibliothek, Vol. IV., i, p. 159, that 
he never can have played in less than five real parts, is a mythical exaggeration. 
Of all these forty-four chorales, which he certainly must have played, not a 
single one is in five parts 


against it, and so his works remained mere offshoots, 
unproductive of blossom and fruit. 

Bach, indeed, was never in the dark as to the requirements 
of a chorale treatment from the side of mere technique. 
The organ, with its echoing masses of chords, produced by 
one man and progressing at his sole will and pleasure, was 
the most complete conceivable contrast to the ancient chorale 
music, that rich and complicated tangle of so many indi- 
vidual voices which could never altogether become mere 
instruments. This, more than anything else, brought about 
the transformation from the old polyphonic to the new 
harmonic system. It may, perhaps, seem strange to many 
readers, and yet it is quite natural, that even the best 
masters, between 1650 and 1700, showed a much more 
homophonic spirit, a much more independent treatment of 
the vocal parts than is compatible with the pure organ 
style, according to our modern conception of it. Of course 
the rigid and heavy quality of the organ does not require 
for its highest idealisation mere external movement as 
attained by runs and the spreading of chords but an inner 
vitality from the creation of musical entities for what 
else can we call melody and motive ? and by their in- 
telligent reciprocity. But this is always a secondary, not, 
as in polyphonic vocal music, a primary consideration. 
We admire with justice the organic structure of an organ 
piece by Sebastian Bach, every smallest detail of it in- 
stinct with vital purpose ; but the so-called polyphonic 
treatment, which clothes the firm harmonic structure, 
is but a beautiful drapery. It resembles a Gothic cathedral, 
with its groups of columns that seem a spontaneous growth, 
and its capitals wreathed with flowers and leaves ; they call 
up to our fancy the seeming of independent life, but they 
do not live, only the artist lives in them. This radical 
distinction cannot be sufficiently insisted on ; without a 
comprehension of it the whole realm of organ music as an 
independent art, and all that has any connection with it, 
including the whole of Sebastian Bach's work, cannot be 

When, therefore, Joh. Christoph Bach deliberately widened 


the breach, he showed that he knew what needed to be 
done. The progression of the parts is often quite untrace- 
able; chords occur now in three parts and then in four, in 
obedience to purely harmonic requirements ; only in a few 
cases can we discern what is intended for the pedal or the 
manual bass, and in a fugato the very part which had the 
theme not unfrequently repeats it immediately, a fifth lower. 
Everywhere the feeling is clearly prominent that the whole 
conduct of the piece lies in the hands of a single individual. 
But these concessions made by Bach to instrumental style 
are but external ; he remained a stranger to the essential 
spirit of chorale treatment for the organ. He now should 
have boldly ventured to raise the chorale to be an indepen- 
dent motive, as the core and basis of a freely wrought 
composition ; he should have liberated himself from the idea 
that he must set his arrangement of the chorale in a neces- 
sary connection with the congregational hymn that belonged 
to it, and regard it as a prelude in the strictest sense of the 
word, leading up to the main subject. This, however, never 
occurred to him, and so nothing could he originate but feeble 
vacillating forms without any balance or centre of gravity. 
If we examine these forms more closely, we find that in 
twenty-one of the preludes the whole melody is taken up ; 
in ten, a mere complexusoi the first lines; in the others, the 
first is used in the way we have seen, as the theme of a 
fugue, and the second line is heard occasionally, or comes 
in at the close, but not fugally treated. Arrangements of 
the whole melody always begin with a fugato of the first line 
or of the first two, quite short interludes sometimes preparing 
us for the leads; the following lines are then usually 
worked out in close canon, for which a pedal-point is used 
as a favourite basis; but we also frequently find an extension 
or dissection of the theme, thus forming separate subjects, or 
a more or less characteristic transformation of the prin- 
cipal features of the melody, and between these again freely 
invented smaller subjects of a more lively character. 

These compositions are far removed from that broad 
motett treatment which calmly develops each movement 
of the melody; it is always the chorale as a whole which 


has floated before the composer's mind as the subject of 
his arrangement; the separate lines are briefly and hastily 
dealt with, and the hearer, who knows the melody as he is 
always supposed to do feels at the close as though it had 
passed over him, as it were, involved in mist. The counter- 
point is usually of very simple construction, note against note, 
and running in thirds and sixths; the harmonic principle of 
organ composition is often intentionally insisted on when 
chords are held in the upper parts and a fugal theme goes on 
in the bass. It is easy to see that the composer is struggling 
after a form, and in some few movements he may be said 
to have succeeded. These indeed are of no great length ; 
but the arrangement, for instance, of " Ich dank dir schon 
durch deinen Sohn," which flows smoothly on in 3-8 time, 
reproduces the whole of the choral. He also displays 
his feeling for form in the way in which he often entwines 
the lines of the melody, bringing in one as contrapuntal to 
its predecessor ; or attacks the closing cadence at once, or, 
finally, holds the harmonic progression together by the use 
of a pedal-point. But, from an excessive consideration for 
the conditions of his art, he deprived himself of the right to 
construct a musical work in accordance with his own innate 
requirements. Now it is the taste of the composer, and 
not any inherent law, which demands that here a line shall 
suddenly appear in double augmentation, and there be 
extended, at least in some of its tones ; that here a section 
of the melody is heard in an ornamental and there in its 
original form ; that precisely in one arrangement the close 
shall run off into elaborate passages, and precisely in 
another a long episode shall be introduced. 128 If we wholly 
set aside the grand sense of unity in these matters of such 
a man as Sebastian Bach, it is quite intelligible why even 
Job. Christoph's contemporaries could go no further in this 
The method of chorale treatment, by which only a few 

128 One of these pieces which, however, is not one of the most characteristic, is 
published in G. W. Korner's Praeludien-Buch, Vol. II., No. 2. A chorale 
fugue on ' Wir glauben all an einen Gott " is also to be found in Hitter's Kunst 
des Orgelspiels, Part III., p. 3. 


lines of the chorale are carried through, contains still fewer 
germs of development, although the composer here occasion- 
ally showed more wealth of resource. For here there is 
neither the poetic unity of the whole chorale structure, nor 
the musical unity of a composition based on one theme, 
and these were in fact the two pillars round which the 
whole art of organ chorales clung and grew. In the third 
class, finally, which we have called the chorale fugue, he 
already trod a more beaten track, and consequently his pro- 
ductions in this department are relatively his best. The 
treatment is as facile and unforced as any writer could have 
made it who had a perfectly clear understanding of the cha- 
racter of his instrument. At the same time they fully bear out 
the character of the "preamble," and are precisely light enough 
not to throw into the background the musical importance of 
the congregational singing that was to follow. Most of them 
are quite up to the highest level that could, during that 
century, be attained in the solution of such problems, and in 
this particular line it can be shown that Joh. Christoph had 
imitators. If sometimes their harmonies are somewhat 
rigid, and the movement rather too stiff, they may still 
be regarded as models allowance being made, of course, 
for the period. It is not very easy to estimate Joh. Chris- 
toph Bach justly, and without prejudice, even from the 
whole contents of the volume, and it is he himself who 
makes judgment so difficult by the great perfection of his vocal 
compositions. Any one coming fresh from these upon the 
chorale preludes will at first meet with constant disappoint- 
ment. The whole distance between a highly developed art 
and one in its first stage of uncertainty lies before us, and 
to modern feeling seems all the greater because we have 
long been accustomed to enjoy the most splendid fruits of 
both branches the vocal and instrumental side by side and 
together. Even the hypothesis that these may be works of 
the master's youth is amply refuted by one circumstance : 
that the chorale " Liebster Jesu, wir sind hier," is to be 
found among the chorale arrangements. This hymn was 
not known before 1671, 129 and indeed the whole collection 

189 Koch's Geschichte des Kirchenlieds, I., 3, p. 355 (third edition). 


could hardly have been made before the middle of that 
decade, within which Bach had already written some of his 
noblest motetts. 

The meagreness and shallowness which is sometimes 
characteristic of this (usually) three-part harmony must 
not lead us to the conclusion that the master was purposely 
writing easy music for some beginner, perhaps his own 
musical sons. We may, indeed, readily believe that he 
has not displayed in them all his powers ; but this cer- 
tainly is not for any educational purpose, but because the 
character of the compositions, as he proposed to work them 
out, did not seem to afford grounds for it. Besides, they 
were published expressly for use during divine service, and 
three-part movements were customary for such purposes 
at even a later period. Nothing, in short, can be said but 
that he could not write them otherwise than as we find 
them. And if we still must wonder that a man who, as a 
vocal composer, displayed such wealth and vitality, should 
here show such poverty of harmony and such halting rhythm, 
it is because we do not consider the wide difference between a 
body of singers, which, even with very little harmonic variety, 
is capable of infinite gradations of light and colour, and can 
even translate words and phrases into music a very strong 
point with Joh. Christoph and the organ, which within the 
limits of a single note can never vary in force, and even in 
rhythm only in an exceptional way, but produces these 
effects by the succession of different qualities of tone. Once 
more it must be said Bach understood the full extent of 
that difference ; and he, who in the chorale " Warum 
betriibst du dich, mein Herz " "Why art thou saddened, oh 
my heart ? " treated the vocal counterpoint in so beautiful 
and striking a manner, could only arrange it for the organ in 
the form and style which we find at the end of this collection, 
and with full conviction of its Tightness. And we cannot 
but recognise that he devoted himself to the task, particu- 
larly in the diligently worked out and melancholy chromatic 
motive. 180 That he opened up no new path in this form of 

See Supplement I. 


music is due to his reserved nature, which was averse to 
all the influences of his time. Indeed, had it been otherwise 
we should not have had his motetts. What else he may 
have produced for the organ cannot be determined in the 
absence of further evidence. 

Five chorale arrangements by Joh. Michael Bach are 
before me in manuscript a very small number, but still suf- 
ficient to throw light on his position as compared with his 
brother and his contemporaries. Michael was more pervious to 
fresh influences, and he also seems to have occupied himself 
more with instrumental music in general than Joh. Christoph. 
Walther says of him that "he, too, composed sonatas for 
instruments and pieces for the clavier." Hence his works 
have shown a much longer vitality, and so late as in the 
second half of the eighteenth century his chorale preludes 
were still known, though they were no longer considered of 
much importance. In Gerber's volume of selections above 
mentioned, there were no less than seventy-two chorales 
treated in various ways, many of them followed by six, eight, 
or ten variations. "There is great variety and multiplicity in 
these preludes, for the age in which they were written, and 
not one is unworthy of the name of Bach." This opinion, 
written by Gerber in the first year of our century, is the only 
trace of their existence that survives ; Walther's four MSS. 
may have been written about 1730. But in order to under- 
stand the difference between the brothers we must first devote 
some attention to the man who, in the last twenty years of 
the seventeenth century, helped above all others to advance 
the art of organ music, and who was closely connected both 
with Thuringia and with the Bach family. 

Johann Pachelbel, born September i, 1653, at Nuremberg, 
cultivated his admirable musical and general talents first at 
Nuremberg, Altorf, and Regensburg. He was then for three 
years Assistant-Organist to the Church of St. Stephen at 
Vienna, and came to Eisenach as Court Organist May 4, 
1677. Here he remained till May 18, 1678, and then be- 
came Organist to the Prediger Kirche in Erfurt, where, as we 
have seen, after the death of Johann Bach, in 1673, Johann 
Effler had officiated for a few years. He was the predecessor 


of Michael Bach at Gehren, and we shall again have occasion 
to mention him among the organists of Weimar. Pachelbel 
remained longer at Erfurt than in any other place in the 
course of his chequered life; it was not till 1690 that he 
quitted it to become Court Organist at Stuttgart ; from 1692 
to 1695 he was again in Thuringia, at Gotha, and passed the 
remainder of his life as Organist to the Church of St. Sebal- 
dus, in his native city, dying March 3, lyoG. 181 As a resident in 
two of the chief centres of the Bach family in succession, he 
had ample opportunity of coming in contact with this race 
(and clan) of musicians. He was on such intimate terms 
with Sebastian's father as to be chosen by him to be 
godfather to one of his daughters and teacher to his eldest 
son, and the chorale treatments which remain to us by 
Bernard, son of Aegidius Bach, are of unmistakable Pachelbel 
stamp throughout; we shall find other proofs of their in- 
timate acquaintance as we proceed. 

His constant changes of residence between South and 
Central Germany had an essential effect on Pachelbel's 
art, by giving rise in him to the amalgamation of various 
tendencies. The style of chorale treatment which was 
principally practised in Thuringia and Saxony, found 
in the skeleton of the church hymn a form offering, it 
is true, a poetic rather than a musical unity; but it 
ran the risk of being decomposed by such handling into 
incoherent fragments. With that feeling, so especially 
characteristic of Italy, for grand and simple forms, 
towards which the very being of the organ pointed, and 
in far more favourable circumstances, Italy and South 
Germany under direct Italian influence, had far out- 
stripped North Germany in the art of organ music. 
Frescobaldi, Organist to the Church of St. Peter at 

111 Mattheson, in the Ehrenpforte, pp. 244-249, has done important service 
in clearing up the details of Pachelbel's life, which had got into great confusion 
in Walther's Lexicon. Even here his stay in Eisenach is wrongly stated as 
lasting three years, while in fact he was there exactly one year and fourteen days, 
as we learn from the yearly accounts of the Royal Exchequer, now in the 
archives of Weimar. Pachelbel was at first granted a salary of lorty thajers 
a year, raised in 1678 to sixty thalers. 


Rome, had, so early as in the first half of the century, 
risen to a height of mastery, which, in certain points 
for instance, in the skilful contrapuntal treatment of a 
cantus firmus was scarcely surpassed by any Catholic 
organ-master of later date. In the toccata, by careful 
elaboration, a form had at last been worked out which 
contained in itself nearly all that the art had then achieved 
fugues, free imitations, brilliant ornamental passages, and 
the mighty flow of chord progressions. This summit, fairly 
represented by Georg Muffat's grand work, Apparatus Musico 
Organisticus (1690), and by the collection of toccatas pub- 
lished by Joh. Speth, 182 had been reached by the end of the 
century ; what remained to be done it was beyond the 
powers of the Catholic organists to achieve. The motive 
supplied by the Protestant chorale was lacking to them; 
the Gregorian chant, which Frescobaldi handled so efficiently 
and effectively for the organ, founded as it was on solo 
declamation and the church modes, was opposed in its very 
essence to that richer development in the new harmonic 
system, by which alone the full expansion of instrumental 
music became possible. In the Protestant chorale, on the 
contrary, that fresh and native growth from the heart of 
the people, organ music was destined to find the natural 
element which the Roman nationalities could not supply 
to it, that pure and unsophisticated essence which penetrated 
and invigorated all its branches. Nor was it merely an 
abundant flow of new melodic inventions that sprang from 
this source; quite new forms of art grew on and from it; 
an undreamed-of wealth of harmonic combinations was 
discovered, and possibilities of instrumental polyphony 
hitherto unknown. Pachelbel carried these achievements 
of the south into the heart of Germany, took possession 
of the elements he there found ready to his hand, and from 
the two constructed something newer and finer. Nowhere 
better than in Thuringia could his genius have met with 

183 Organisch-Instrumentalischer Kunst-, Zier- und Lustgarten. Augsburg, 
1693. Republished by Fr. Commer : Compositionen fur die Orgel aus dem i, 
17 18, Jahrhundert, Part V. (Leipzig: Geissler.) 


men capable of welcoming it with unbiassed minds, and with 
a greater capacity for furthering it on its way. From 
this time forth the focus of German organ music lay un- 
doubtedly in Central Germany ; the south fell off more and 
more ; the north, with Dietrich Buxtehude at its head, 
preserved its position somewhat longer, and even constructed 
a certain chorale treatment of its own, which, however, 
lagged far behind that of Central Germany in variety and 
depth. History, however, retains a memory of a personage 
older than Pachelbel J. J. Froberger, of Halle, who no 
doubt largely assimilated the southern spirit, and, so far 
as I have at present discovered, did not even make any 
use of chorales; he nevertheless was held in great respect 
by the organists of Central Germany and even by Sebastian 

How truly Pachelbel stood above all his contemporaries 
as a writer for the organ in the southern style is best 
shown by his toccatas ; and at the same time we may 
see even in these that a more powerful and soaring spirit 
already possessed him. For while he leaves their general 
character unaltered, which aims at brilliancy, bravura, and 
the elaboration of broad masses of harmony, he has never- 
theless abandoned the motley variety of slow and rapid 
movements, fugal and not fugal, simple and ornamental, of 
which their contents were commonly made up. The finest 
and best of his toccatas generally run on in constant 
movement, built and elaborated on one or more figures, 
and usually supported by a few long held pedal -points. 
Thus, one of them rests entirely on C for fifteen bars, on 
G fourteen bars, and on C again seventeen bars, and is 
grandly thought out on this motive 

Another, even finer and more flowing, has first a pedal- 
point on C, sixteen bars, then passes by the chord of g on 
F sharp to G ; after remaining there for ten bars it modulates 

i i 

through F E A to G ; here there is a pedal-point for six bars, 


and it closes with another on C six bars ; the movement of 
the upper parts is at first in semiquavers, then it increases to 
triplets of semiquavers, and finally to demisemiquavers. Two 
more splendid pieces of this kind are a toccata in G minor 
and one in F major ; the first is on G for seventeen bars, D 
for twenty bars, and returns in the last bar to G ; the upper 
parts at first rush up and down in passages of thirds and 
sixths, but presently calm down into arpeggiato chords and 
slow waves of harmony. The second is, perhaps, the finest of 
all, in its majestic plan and the proud culmination of the 
theme ; in it we have the precursor of that truly gigantic 
toccata in F major by Sebastian Bach. 188 
A chaconne in D minor, of which the bass 

' J "' J J ' 
^ ^=^ 

is repeated thirty-five times, has the same broad character, 
full of style, though for inspiration and harmonic richness 
it cannot bear comparison with similar works by Buxtehude. 
In the field of chorale arrangements Pachelbel deserves 
the credit of having brought selection, order, and dignity to 
bear on the abundant but uncultured offshoots of organ 
music in Central Germany, and of having diverted the tide 
of southern beauty to flood the channels of German artistic 
feeling. The progress made after his appearance on the 
scene is quite remarkable, and perceptible at the first glance. 
The direction which this branch of art had to take was that 
of every aesthetically constructed form. It had to grow to 
independent vitality, freeing itself from those external and 
fortuitous conditions to which it owed its existence. Origi- 

189 B.-G. XV., p. 154. These two last-mentioned works of Pachelbel are 
published by Franz Commer, Musica Sacra, Vol. I., Nos. 136, 128 (Berlin: Bote 
and Bock). Nos. 48 to 144 of this series are all by Pachelbel, and the originals 
used by Commer are partly printed and partly MSS., in the Library of the Royal 
Institute for Church Music at Berlin. A few others are published by G. W. 
Korner, of Erfurt, in Part 340 of the Orgel-Virtuos, and in Part I. of the 
collected edition of Pachelbel's compositions for the organ (no more published). 
Besides these a rich mass of MS. material lies before me. 


nally intended only as an introduction or prelude suited to 
the feeling of the congregational hymn, its only value arose 
from its fitness and connection with that. Separate frag- 
ments and concords borrowed from a familiar melody sounded 
in the hearer's ear; these passages were to him inseparable 
from the accompanying poetry, and led his feelings in a 
certain direction, so that when the hymn was raised they 
blossomed out full and clear. 

Art could here produce her result in two different ways. 
Either a conspicuous feature of the melody might be 
selected the first line perhaps as the theme, and a 
purely musical composition might be built up upon it ; 
then the chorale itself could only indicate the fundamental 
feeling which pervaded the whole work. This was the 
most obvious method ; practical usage had already pointed 
it out. The difference between a fugue designed for a 
prelude, and a work constructed on a chorale motive is only 
this that the former has no meaning nor purpose excepting 
in connection with the hymn that is to follow, while the lat- 
ter offers an independent organism, and therefore proceeds to 
exhaust the thematic source while the former is merely meant 
to indicate it. Or else the whole melody was transferred to 
the organ, and was accepted with all the attributes which 
characterised it in its church function as associated with a 
religious poem, as a means of general edification, and as an 
integral portion of public worship, and thus gave rise to a kind 
of ideal devotion in the region of pure instrumental music of 
which the melody was really the heart and centre. It is plain 
that this process is far behind the former one as to universal in- 
telligibility, since too much of what is offered to our perceptions 
lies outside the essential nature of the melody; and only a very 
well-defined poetical basis can throw the tone-poet's purpose 
and feeling into clear relief. But almost infinite room was 
open for lavish and deeply elaborated development ; and the 
subjective piety of the time found in this form many more 
and happier opportunities for weaving in its mystical im- 
pulses, and following them out to their subtlest issues, than 
in the bare simplicity of a congregational hymn. The 
working out of this branch of art, so closely connected with 


the church, ran parallel to the modification in ecclesiastical 
feeling; and the less men cared to unite in uttering a strong 
congregational sentiment in the unction of a church hymn, the 
more it was left to the organ chorale to express the intimate 
feeling of individuals. The fact that the chorale even then 
was practically used as a prelude in divine worship does not 
alter these conditions. If now the melody of the chorale 
was to serve as the core the spirit of such a musical medi- 
tation, it was indispensable that it should be conspicuous 
throughout the music ; that it should soar above it all ; 
concentrate it in itself; throw out from itself all its vital 
germs. These on their part had to develop into members 
of the melody on every side, however diverse ; to group 
them into constantly fresh and pregnant shades of tone; 
and, to make all perfect, some consciousness of the feeling of 
the words had to find a faint utterance through the expression 
of the musical composition. In order to effect all this they 
were obliged to move with the utmost possible independence, 
in obedience to the law that the freer the servant the more 
honoured is the master. 

At the time of his best maturity Pachelbel published 
eight chorale treatments (apparently at Nuremberg, through 
Johann Christoph Weigel, 1693) which probably indicate the 
highest level of his achievements in that line. 184 Most of 
them are so constructed that the separate lines of the 
melody are slowly and clearly carried through either the 
upper or lower part. The subject is rigidly confined to 
three or four parts, so that at each fresh lead of the melody 
the richest harmonies arise, and it is thus thrown into greater 
relief. Every line is introduced by a short passage of 
imitation deriving its material from the first notes of the line 
itself, and so preparing us for it; but always in double or 
fourfold diminution, so that the effect of the chorale may 
not be weakened by it, but be conspicuously distinct even in 
rhythm. The contrapuntal figures themselves, however, are 
not derived from this, but are of independent origin ; still, but 

184 Fr. Commer, Nos. 48-55. 



one or only a few figures are adhered to, which proceed and 
react by reciprocal imitation. This passage 

from the chorale " Wie schon leucht't uns der Morgenstern" 
" How brightly shines the morning star," representing the 
last line of the verse, will elucidate this. In the first bar the 
first three notes of the melody are sounded in preparation, F, 
E, D; then they recur in the pedal, and the upper parts play 
above them a passage of imitation in a manner very frequent 
with Pachelbel ; he often repeats even the parallel motion 
that we find here ; the highest grade of contrapuntal free 
treatment is not yet attained. It is also a defect that the 
interlude is not of a piece with the counterpoint ; otherwise, 
the flow of the parts is already very easy, smooth, and 
unforced, and at the same time thoroughly adapted to the 
organ ; and we know that he insisted on a cantabile style of 
composition, even in his pupils, which can mean nothing 
different from this. 185 The composer rarely goes into the 
construction of the contrapuntal themes on the material of 
the text of the melody. The cheerful, pastoral effect of it in 
the chorale " Vom Himmel hoch " is perhaps unique, and 
here a field but little cultivated was still left open to the pro- 
found genius of Sebastian Bach. 

1 As we are told by J. H. Buttstedt, in his work: Ut, Re, Mi, &c., iota 
Musica ft Harmonia Sterna. Erfurt, 1716, p. 58. 


Pachelbel's own manner, indeed, predominates so greatly 
in his chorales, and where it occurs in the works of his 
contemporaries the influence of his music is recognisable by 
so many other tokens as well, that we may unhesitatingly 
assert that they followed him, and the whole method may 
with justice be designated as his. For, although attempts in 
this direction occur at an earlier period, it was certainly he 
who, by his superior talent and feeling for form, amalgamated 
the scattered elements to form an artistic whole. He less 
frequently treated the chorale melody contrapuntally, but 
still with much mastery, carrying it on in a continuous 
course without interludes if we apply the term, as is 
usually done, to independent phrases however short, but not 
to a figure which occupies perhaps but a single bar, and 
only derives its significance from the foregoing counterpoint. 
Of this treatment not to go beyond the chorale works 
above mentioned the arrangement of "Nun lob mein Seel 
den Herren " "My soul, now praise thy Maker," 136 
may be quoted as an example ; it is also remarkable 
because the melody lies in the middle part, a task not 
often attempted at that time. He rarely carries through 
the chorale in such a way as that the upper part lends play 
of colour, or with interludes between the lines, and in these 
respects he is inferior in taste and delicacy of treatment to 
Buxtehude and his pupils ; but he has enhanced the artistic 
value of his own manner by the way in which, in a number 
of admirable works, he graces the chorale with a fugue on 
the first line of the melody. We see from this how firm a 
grasp the master had of his ideal namely, the trans- 
figuration of the chorale, with all its sacred and ecclesiastical 
associations, to a purely artistic work, regarding it, as it 
were, as an object of natural beauty to be dealt with by his 
art. The introductory fugue is in the manner of a prelude, 
only it is more freely and richly worked out. It bears the 
same relation to a chorale fugue by Joh. Christoph Bach 
that an idealised work does to bare realism ; nay, we need 

186 Fr. Commer, No. 50. 

I 2 


only compare it with one of Pachelbel's own smaller chorale 
fugues, intended simply for practical use in the church ser- 
vice, to feel the wide difference between them. The chorale 
arrangement following the fugue appears by contrast as 
the main subject, treated with every variety of means at 
the master's command. The melody is heard in aug- 
mentation, often majestically filled up in the bass by 
octaves, and brilliant and expressive figures entwine and 
blossom above and around it. Some of the finest are the 
workings out of " Allein Gott in der Hoh sei Ehr," "Vom 
Himmel hoch," " Nun komm der Heiden Heiland," 187 and 
" Christ lag in Todesbanden " ; 188 others are more simple but 
not less admirable. 

No more need be said concerning the independent fugues 
founded on chorales, since they are in all essentials alike, 
and only differ at the close. 139 But with regard to the 
fugue form itself, I must take this opportunity of adding a 
few words. Frescobaldi has been called the inventor of it, 
but this only really means that he was the first to employ 
the fugal style of playing on established principles of art. 
The high position held by this master has already been 
admitted ; still the form could not be fully developed 
excepting under a general acceptance of the harmonic 
system, because it was this which first made the genetic 
connection between the leading subject and its associates 
actual and perceptible, and enabled the composer to con- 
struct an instrumental work on purely musical lines and 
possessing an organic symmetry of its own. Then it was 
that the Quinten-Fuge (i.e., a fugue in which the answer 
is on the fifth above) first grew undoubtedly the most 
perfect of those forms out of all the canzone, capriccios, 
and fantasias, by which names everything fugally treated 
had until then been called, without any perceptible or 
essential difference. The best things produced by the later 

187 Commer, Nos. 122, 143, 144. 

138 Korner, Pachelbel's Orgel-Compositionen, Part I., No. I. 

189 Such an one may be seen in Commer's edition, No. 53 ; in Korner's, No. 5. 


Catholic masters of the organ are to be found in their 
toccatas. The seventh toccata of the work mentioned 
above, by Georg Muffat, closes with a fugue in which no 
less than four extremely pleasing themes are very skilfully 
worked out ; and in the second, fourth, and sixth toccatas, 
capital fugues occur as distinct portions, not to speak of the 
free imitative subjects scattered throughout ; but the great 
distance at which they stand from the fugal writing of the 
later school of Central Germany is at once evident. The 
harmonic basis of the themes is far simpler ; it often can 
only be termed a system not of counterpoint, but of chords 
which rather seem to carry the motives than to alternate 
with them independently. As has been repeatedly said, it 
was indispensable for the development of organ music that 
the new tone-system should first be firmly established, and 
then the nature of the instrument tended inevitably to a 
scheme of polyphony, which, though radically different from 
the vocal polyphony of the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, 
still seemed to resemble it. But all the means to this end 
which masters of the organ had been able to derive from 
the treatment of the Protestant chorales were wanting 
in the artists of the south not merely the supple- 
ness of the harmonies, and the intimacy and the in- 
dependence of the contrapuntal parts, but also a firm and 
deliberate entrance of the themes which, particularly in 
the works of Sebastian Bach, always stand forth like a 
distinct personality with unforgettable features. In Muffat, 
and other writers, there is something painful in their first 
appearance, as though they dared not come forth boldly. 
They seek support from the companion passages which are 
presently brought in, and so they are soon lost, their close dis- 
appearing in a common phrase. It follows from this also that 
the whole number of parts is not always carried through to 
the end, and often the parts come in or cease at need, merely 
to help out the harmony. Pachelbel made great progress in 
this direction. In the form and attitude particularly of the 
theme at its first entrance, he already trod the path afterwards 
pursued by Sebastian Bach and Handel, and his counterpoint 
is often full of rich vitality, though, no doubt, it is often stiff 


and unmeaning. The following example will serve as an 
illustration : 140 


Pachelbel had a number of disciples in Thuringia, some 
his personal pupils, others through his influence only. 
Among the former was J. H. Buttstedt (1666-1727), who 
succeeded his master at the Prediger Church at Erfurt, and 
who is known, to his disadvantage, by his lawsuit with 
Mattheson as to his Neueroffnetes Orchestre ; but he 
was a great master of his instrument, and a remarkable 
composer of organ chorales and fugues. 141 Then there was 
Nikolaus Vetter, born 1666, who was still Organist at 
Rudolstadt (1730), and also did honour to his teacher. 
In more or less close relation to Pachebel were Andreas 
Armstroff, who died young (1670-1699), an Organist at 
Erfurt ; Johann Graff, Organist at Magdeburg (died 1709) ; 
and of the succeeding generation the more important of those 
who followed in his footsteps were Georg Kauffmann (1679- 
1735), a pupil of Buttstedt ; the gifted Gottfried Kirchhoff 
(1685-1746), Organist at Halle ; and, above all, Johann Gott- 
fried Walther, of Weimar (1684-1748). His influence made 
itself felt, by degrees, throughout Thuringia and Saxony, and 
hence even by the Bach family; indeed, one of its mem- 
bers, the eldest brother of Sebastian, was one of his pupils, 
and so perhaps was Bernhard Bach, afterwards Organist at 
Eisenach. Still the Bach family was too innately independent 

140 The whole fugue occurs in Commer, No. 124, but the case is the same 
with many others. 

141 I have sought in vain in Erfurt for his published vocal compositions, 
mentioned by Walther. It would be worth some trouble to bring them to 
light again. 



ever to give itself up entirely to any external direction, and 
this was the very reason why, at a subsequent date, it was 
able to produce a still greater and more comprehensive genius. 
Indeed, in Joh. Christoph Bach, who lived with Pachelbel for 
some time in Eisenach, his influence was never in any way 
perceptible; probably the converse may rather have been the 
case. Still Michael Bach availed himself of Pachelbel's 
method, and certain circumstances point to a personal 
acquaintance between these two artists. 

Thus, the five organ pieces by Michael Bach remaining to 
us are treatments of the chorales " Allein Gott in der Hoh 
sei Ehr " " Glory to God alone on high " ; " Wenn mein 
Stiindlein vorhanden ist " " If my last hour is now at hand " ; 
"Nun freut euch, lieben Christen g'mein " " Sing and be glad, 
all Christian folk"; "In dich hab ich gehoffet, Herr" 142 "In 
Thee, O Lord, is all my hope," and " Dies sind die heilgen 
zehn Gebot" "These ten are God's most holy laws." The 
two last are quite in the style above designated as Pachelbel's. 
Since both Joh. Christoph and Pachelbel himself worked up 
the chorale " In dich hab ich," it is easy to see, by com- 
parison, how far behind the other two Joh. Christoph Bach 
remained in the flexibility and melody of his counterpoint. 
Only the beginning of each arrangement is here given : 



T P ' | y 

, ^ . f 5-lp_pEEEEiEj 

_ >. . . J. J- Jl A J J ! 



144 I owe my knowledge of this to Herr Ritter, Musical Director in Magdeburg. 
It is to be found in the Orgel-Journal of Mannheim, Vol. I., Part 7, and 
came from Ch. H. Rinck, a pupil of Kittel's. 


In the third piece Michael Bach treats the chorale melody 
as it goes on, contrapuntally, in a truly fine and flowing 
manner, striving to keep closely to certain figures, and 
preluding the whole with a short fugue on the first line. 

The two first-named chorales exhibit no clearly worked out 
form ; they are less defined and perfect. The second gives 
out the first line once, in three parts. After a short interlude 
the second line comes in without any fugal treatment. Two 
bars of interlude follow, bringing in the cantus firmus of 
both lines in the pedal, but not in double augmentation. 
Then comes the first line of the refrain, once imitated, and 
then the second, followed by the pedal in canon ; and finally 
the third in the same manner. Thus the first line of the 
second half of the tune does not occur at all in the pedal; the 
piece has no culminating point and no arrangement. When 
we compare Pachelbel's treatment of the same melody, 
which, in his favourite way, has the full and richly figured 
chorale preceded by a chorale fugue, it would seem as though 
Michael Bach had produced a not very happy imitation of it. 
And though Pachelbel does not introduce the cantus firmus 
in augmentation, he has succeeded in giving it value and 
relief by other means ; for instance, by richer figura- 
tion. 143 This Michael Bach has neglected. " Allein Gott in 
der Hoh," in short, is so treated that one line is always 
carried on fugally on the " Riickpositiv" ; 144 and then this 
same line, sometimes in combination with the next, is intro- 
duced in the simplest four-part harmony on the "Oberwerk." 144 
But even this is not a central idea of form, for what ought to 
have been effected by truly artistic means is here produced by 
mere alternations of tone ; or, if the simple chorale subject indi- 
cates congregational singing, the true significance of a church 
service has been misunderstood, and it has been transferred 
to the domain of ideal art, where a quite different standard 
prevails. This is not to be done by mere realistic copying. 

148 Compare, for instance, No. 134 in Commer. 

144 These are the names of two of the manuals in a German organ. The 
"Riickpositiv" answers in some measure to our "Choir organ," and the 
" Oberwerk " or upper manual to our swell. See Translators' Preface. 


Zachau, again, the teacher of Handel, though fifteen years 
younger, gives us a similar treatment in " Was mein Gott 
will, das g'scheh allzeit," "Erbarm dich mein, o Herre Gott," 
and " Vater unser im Himmelreich." So Michael Bach was 
not singular in his misconception. 

The suggestion just now put forward, that Joh. Christoph 
Bach's peculiar greatness cannot have failed to influence 
Pachelbel, although he, as an organist, far surpassed the 
elder master, is founded in the first place on a treatment of 
the chorale " Warum betrubtst du dich, mein Herz" "Why 
art thou saddened, oh my heart?" 145 in which Pachelbel 
shows a resemblance that can scarcely be accidental with the 
above-mentioned work on the same subject, which closes the 
collection of chorales by Joh. Christoph Bach. At the first 
occurrence of the sixth and seventh notes of the melody 
Bach introduces a dotted figure of quavers, in place of 
which he eventually puts in a chromatic figure, to signify the 
"saddened" heart. Such playing round his theme is of 
frequent occurrence with him, while Pachelbel, on the con- 
trary, is wont to leave the lines of the melody unaltered, but 
to introduce fugal movements. In the arrangement before 
us he has the transformed figures likewise, and by carrying 
them consistently through the whole of the chorale fugue 
he justifies their introduction. Nay, more, even the chro- 
matic motive is turned to account as a counter-subject, 
though not in the theme ; such references in the chorale 
fugue to the inner parts of the hymn are not usual with 
him. Thus the whole work is not only one of the 
master's finest, but takes a distinct place among others of 
the same kind and character. 146 

On the strength of this result another conjecture may 
perhaps be hazarded, namely, that Pachelbel was incited by 
Joh. Christoph's collection of chorale preludes to attempt a 
similar work. He did, in fact, collect a series of 160 chorale 

145 Published by Korner, Orgel-Virtuos, No. 340. There is yet another and 
also very beautiful arrangement by him, with the cantus firmus in the bass, but 
which, so far as I know, has never been published. 

146 Walther, too, treated the melody, as based on Pachelbel, with rich chro- 
matic passages, in direct and counter movement with an ornate cantus firmus. 


melodies, principally for domestic use, with figured-basses, 
in a Tabulaturbuch, and to half of these he added short 
chorale fugues as preludes. 147 These are quite of the same 
character as Bach's works, briefly and lightly suggesting the 
tune, and so forming a very fitting preparation for the con- 
gregational singing ; only, as might be expected, we find a 
more free and flowing manner than in Bach. And what 
is particularly remarkable is, that in the hymn "Warum 
betriibtst du dich, mein Herz," a chorale fugue is introduced 
and even the dotted figure. If this view is the correct one, 
it becomes plain with how little justice it has been asserted on 
the other hand that Bach learnt of Pachelbel, even in vocal 
choral music. 148 That this is most unlikely is self-evident, 
for Bach was twelve years the elder and extremely reserved, 
while Pachelbel's was a highly receptive and versatile nature. 
But we have only to look through one of Pachelbel's motetts 
to find ample proof of the actual inaccuracy of such an asser- 
tion. There is hardly the remotest affinity to be detected 
between the facile and pleasing style of Pachelbel and the 
bold and thoughtful forms of Bach's work. If the tradition 
is to be accepted that Pachelbel " advanced the perfecting of 
church music," 149 this must certainly refer to his "concerted" 
vocal pieces (with obbligato accompaniment of instruments, 

' Tabulatur Buch | Geistlicher Gesange | D. Martini Lutheri | und anderer 
Gottseliger Manner | Sambt beygefugten Choral Fugen | durchs gantze Jahr | 
Allen Liebhabern des Claviers componiret | von | Johann Pachelbeln, Organisten 
zu | S. Sebald in Niirnberg | 1704. | A MS. in oblong quarto in the Grand 
Ducal Library at Weimar, but not in Pachelbel's hand. Goethe took much 
interest in this work, and sent it to Zelter, March 27, 1824, who returned it to 
him eight days after with an opinion as characteristic of himself as of the book 
(Briefwechsel zwischen Goethe und Zelter, III., pp. 423-426). Winterfeld has 
given an exhaustive description of it, and five chorale fugues out of it (Ev. 
Kir., II., 636-642). Those on the melodies "In dich hab ich gehoffet, Herr" 
(fol. 84 b), and " Erhalt uns, Herr " (fol. 130 b), are only abridgments of longer 
arrangements. A. G. Ritter has recently proved that it is highly probable that 
the whole of this Tabulatur Buch is not an original work, but must be re- 
garded as a compilation of abridged organ chorales by Pachelbel, and that these 
abridgments, or some of them at least, were not made by the author himself 
(Monatshefte fur Musikges. 1874, p. 119). 

i Winterfeld, Ev. Kir., III. ,429. 

" Walther, Lexicon, p 458. Mattheson, Ehrenpforte, p. 247. 



that is to say), and particularly to the use made in them of the 
chorale. Here, the technique he had acquired by composition 
for the organ stood him in good stead ; he knew how to avail 
himself of it with great skill for vocal style, and was in this 
respect the forerunner of Sebastian Bach. His cantata on 
the hymn by Rodigast, " Was Gott thut, das 1st wohl- 
gethan" of which the melody would appear to be his also 
is a very remarkable example, as illustrating the state of 
church music in the middle of the seventeenth century. 150 We 
should, however, be in error in supposing him to stand alone 
in these works. We shall presently become acquainted with 
cantatas by Buxtehude which surpass those of Pachelbel, at 
any rate in fervency and inspiration. 

The melody (in the major) of " Wo soil ich fliehen hin " 
perhaps affords another example of his labours as a composer 
of vocal church music 

II O Wo soil ich flie - hen bin 

It must have originated at about that time; it occurs 
in Pachelbel's Tabulaturbuch, where it is supplied with a 
chorale fugue, and it was subsequently worked up with 
special care by Job. Gottfr. Walther, which is important 
circumstantial evidence, since we know his high esteem for 
Pachelbel. If he was the composer of it 151 we have here 
grounds for concluding that there was a close intimacy be- 
tween him and Michael Bach, for Bach has interwoven this 
tune, then but little known, in his motett " Das Blut Jesu 
Christi." There is yet another circumstance to be mentioned 
which seems to prove such an intimacy with tolerable 
certainty, since 'it strengthens the hypothesis that the intro- 
duction of the air into the motett was a friendly attention, 
and is also a further evidence of the probability of Pachelbel 
being the original inventor of it. 

Pachelbel's versatility led him to direct his energies not 
only to the organ and clavier (he is said to have been the 

1*0 Part of it is given by Winterfeld, Ev. Kir., II., Musical Supplement, 
p. 196. 

151 As Winterfeld has already suggested, Ev. Kir., p. 639. 


first who adapted the form of the French "overture" to this 
instrument), but to other forms of instrumental music, and 
among others the sonata. Of this two kinds must be distin- 
guished : the secular sonata, adapted for chamber music, and 
the sacred sonata. The latter, as a rule, preceded a piece 
of vocal church music, and its actual originator was Giov. 
Gabrieli. In form, of course, it had nothing in common with 
the modern sonata. It was an instrumental piece in several 
parts, in which the principal feature was the development of 
fuller and finer harmonies, rather than the working out of 
a determined theme. A favourite method was the contrasted 
use of the instruments then employed in the church violins, 
cornets, and trumpets in an antiphonal manner. Excepting 
in the constantly increasing distinction in the new scheme of 
keys, the essence of the church sonata altered but little in the 
course of the seventeenth century. In the last decades, to be 
sure, the overture form invented by Lully asserted its influence 
to some extent. This form consists of a broad introductory 
subject in slow time, often graced by brilliant passages, and 
followed by a rapid and agitato fugal movement. Although 
Hammerschmidt had made use of a similar contrast long 
before Lully wrote his overtures, which marked an epoch, 152 
still, in later composers, the contrast of the sections is too 
evidently intentional and abrupt to leave any doubt as to its 
resulting from the application of a deliberate scheme of 
form. 158 But even at this later period the writer was often 
satisfied with a calm movement full of harmonies and sus- 
tained passages, and when a livelier movement follows (often 
in triple time) it is by no means always fugally treated, but 
quite as often shows only a few passages of free imitation. 
This is the form we meet with in Joh. Christoph Bach's 

IM See the instrumental introduction to the Dialogus, " Wer walzet uns den 
Stein," in Part IV. of Musikalischer Andachten, No. 7. 

153 I may here name, beside Buxtehude, of whom I shall speak presently, 
Philipp Heinrich Erlebach, 1657-1714, Capellmeister in Rudolstadt, whose 
Gott geheiligte Singstunde (Rudolstadt, 1704), contains twelve sacred pieces 
with introductory symphonies. He was expressly celebrated as having con- 
siderable mastery in the treatment of the French oveiture. See Buttstedt as 
quoted in the next note. 


church sonata, " Es erhub sich ein Streit im Himmel," but 
the introduction to Michael Bach's cantata (discussed above) 
is in the former style, though indeed it did not become a 
model. And the opposition of various groups of instruments 
is, even now, a very favourite device. It will be our inte- 
resting task, in the proper place, to show what attitude 
Sebastian Bach took up with regard to the church sonata. 
When we read that Pachelbel wrote sonatas for a double 
choir, we must having regard to the period at which he 
lived take this to mean instrumental church sonatas, and 
we know what to understand by the term. 

But he also busied himself with secular instrumental 
compositions, particularly serenatas. Serenades were at that 
time performed with vocal and instrumental music, or with 
instrumental only. It is highly improbable that any special 
form of structure should have existed for these ; a series of 
dances and marches were probably played ; but we are told 
of Pachelbel that he composed " a serenata," and as this is 
mentioned with his sonatas, it may have been planned on 
the same method, only lighter and gayer. Now this serenata 
was certainly well known to Michael Bach, and he himself 
was possibly treated to it on some festival occasion or other. 
He then took a friendly revenge on Pachelbel on a suitable 
occasion with a similar composition ; and the works of both 
masters are said to have been of such excellence that 
Buttstedt mentions them long after the death of the 
composers, and says that, of their kind, they rank superior 
to Lully's overtures. 154 

184 J. H. Buttstedt in the work just quoted (see note 153) says: "Art, 
on the other hand, was more necessary in my late master and teacher, Herr 
PachelbeVs Sonatas, in specie his Serenate, Johann Michel Bach's Revange 
and such like" (than in overtures). Thus it would seem that Bach named 
his piece "Revange" (Retaliation), indicating at once its motive and aim. 
Adlung appears to have known it, for in his copy with MSS. notes of 
Walther's Lexicon, now in the Royal Library at Berlin, under the article 
" Michael Bach " he has written : " Two choral sonatas by Joh. Mich. Bach 
are engraved and printed." The " Revange " was scarcely known beyond 
Thuringia, to our loss, for it might in that case have been preserved. 
Mattheson, who had a tolerably wide acquaintance with musical literature, 
makes no mention of it. See his Beschiitztes Orchestre, p. 22j, 


Michael Bach's work as a composer of sonatas has already 
been alluded to ; it is mainly in these that it is important 
to prove the existence of an intimacy between him and 
Pachelbel. Since Sebastian Bach, by his first marriage, 
was closely connected with Michael's house in which, even 
after his death, the memory of this friend would certainly 
have been cherished, and his compositions particularly 
esteemed and probably preserved in considerable numbers 
this is of no small interest. 

Neither the famous sonatas nor the clavier compositions of 
Michael Bach have anywhere come under my notice. Three 
sets of variations for the clavier exist by Job. Christoph 
Bach, and going back once more to this Eisenach master, 
from whom we digressed, we may conclude our study of the 
musical works of the two brothers. The clavier for a long 
period played a subordinate part as compared with the organ, 
though it was nearly allied to it particularly in the form of the 
harpsichord, by the lack of subtle shades of tone, and of 
different varieties of touch. But the quick evanescence of 
the sound, on the other hand, brought it into contrast with 
the organ; and in the clavichord this contrast was even more 
conspicuous, because of the possibility of representing diffe- 
rent shades of tone, however soft. While, during the first half 
of the seventeenth century, music for the organ and clavier 
was not kept distinct, and as, in Scheldt's Tabulatura nova, 
things were often required of the organ which it was not 
generally used for, in the second half of the century a special 
clavier style grew up, based principally on the characteristics 
of the instrument. Its peculiarities were founded on an in- 
creased rapidity in the succession of sounds, adapted to 
conceal their deficiency in duration and to compensate as far 
as possible for this defect. For such a style the figured 
variations already introduced by Scheidt were very well 
adapted. A subject of simple construction, with a clearly 
defined and easily recognised melody, was selected for the 
theme an aria, saraband, or chorale and so varied by 
running passages for the right hand that the salient points of 
the melody were just touched upon, or so slightly modified 
that the essential features remained recognisable throughout. 


Now and then, for a change, a running passage in the left hand 
occurred, while the simple theme was carried on above it. 
The rhythmical proportions of the theme were at the same 
time not lost sight of. If it was in two sections, so were the 
variations ; and if each section was in four bars, these re- 
curred in the figures. Chorales, in particular, were much 
used in this way ; and so the contemporaries of those writers 
must often have heard these nimble fancies played even on 
the organ. Buxtehude, indeed, made a complete Suite out of 
the fine and solemn chorale, " Auf meinen lieben Gott," 
by variations on it with a saraband, courante, and gigue, in 
which the melody is most skilfully retained, in spite of the 
different measures and the varying character of the dances. 155 
Such tasks were undertaken without any thought of frivolity 
simply for the delight in the play of sounds. The greatest 
ingenuity in this species of music was manifested by Georg 
Bohm, of the Church of St. John, at Liineburg, a younger 
contemporary of Joh. Christoph Bach, and like him a Thu- 
ringian, who, as we shall see, initiated Sebastian Bach into 
this form of art. Works of the same kind exist by Buttstedt, 
and even by Pachelbel. 156 Now and then a more thoughtful 
and artistic combination crept in from the neighbouring domain 
of organ music. The titles were "Changes" (Verande- 
rungen), "Variations," "Partie," " Partita," in chorales even 
"Verses" simply, since it was a favourite plan to make as 
many variations as there were verses in the hymn, but 
without any special reference to the text of each verse. 
These airy and often extremely pleasing structures had a 
higher result in the progress of art, serving, in the first 
place, to encourage finger dexterity, besides giving rise to an 
abundance of figures and subtle variants, which served a 
later generation as materials for attaining the very highest 
perfection of clavier music. This variation form was not 

195 Thus Mattheson is in error when he attributes to himself (Vollkommener 
Capellmeister, p. 161) the invention of turning chorale melodies into dances 
by variations of rhythm. 

156 Pachelbel published a work at Nuremberg, in 1699, Hexachordum Apollinis, 
containing six airs with variations. 


capable of any great depth of treatment, for which reason it 
proved no longer sufficient for Sebastian Bach's requirements; 
and in his variations written for Goldberg he struck out a new 
path, worthy of his genius, in which he has been followed by 
Beethoven and Brahms. The "Air with variations," how- 
ever, in its merely "figured" form, has remained in favour 
with artists and the public down to the present day. 

Job. Christoph Bach's twelve variations on a saraband, 
in G major, 167 are models of fancy and grace. The saraband 
consists of three sections, each to be repeated. The first 
contains eight bars, the two last each four, and this echo-like 
repetition of two such short phrases leads us to suppose that 
the composer wrote for a two-manualed harpsichord, on 
which the parts were played alternately. It is not deficient 
in harmonic subtlety ; the theme begins at once, on the 
chord of the sixth (it is thus that we must account for the 
harmony, although the characteristic E does not come in till 
afterwards), a bold attack, worthy of Joh. Christoph. In the 
last variation even such chords as these occur : 



The first variation has, in the right hand, a variant on the 
air in quavers ; the second, a fine flowing quaver bass ; the 
third gives the melody quite a new character by a pleasing 
little variant ; in the fourth, the quaver movement is given in 
alternate bars to each hand ; from the fifth onwards, semi- 
quavers are introduced, but among them, for contrast, 
quieter variations come in, as for example in the sixth, of 
which the transcendental chromatic harmony is a feature re- 
minding us of Buxtehude; the eleventh variation has quavers 
again, and the last closes calmly in grave 3-2 time. Sebas- 
tian Bach seems to have known and loved this little work. 
In his A minor variations we find a good deal that is 
thought out in a similar way, and the beginning of the third 

157 In MS. in the Royal Library at Berlin. 



Goldberg variation 158 appears to be a further development of 
Joh. Christoph Bach's fourth : 





Since the grand fourth variation in Beethoven's Sonata 
(Op. 109) can be pretty plainly traced to its root in Sebas- 
tian Bach's composition, we may see in this the indirect 
influence of Joh. Christoph Bach even in modern times. 
Beethoven had the highest respect for Sebastian Bach's 
clavier works, and such a development is by no means 
extraordinary. Reminiscences of him frequently occur, 
especially in the earlier sonatas. 

Fifteen variations also are extant on an air by Daniel 
Eberlin, then Capellmeister at Eisenach ; it is in E flat 
major, and seems to be a sort of cradle song. Many of 
these variations which treat the melody as a cantus firmus 
with counterpoint, here calm and slow, and there more 
rapid have something of the organ style about them. In 
the eleventh the melody comes out very sweetly in the tenor, 
and the ninth forms a pendant to the sixth of the series first 
noticed. But the use of chromatic passages is even more 
daring, and gives the harmony a strange, intoxicating effect, 
reminding us of the most modern means of expression used by 
Schubert and Schumann. It might safely be wagered that 
no one, unacquainted with the instrumental music of the 
seventeenth century, would guess at this day that these 
variations were composed in 1690 ; rather would he imagine 
from their softness and sweetness that they were by Mozart, 

B-G., III., 266. 


who also knew how to use chromatic passages and motives 
with wonderful force of expression. As regards the figures, 
chey display no great variety, though they are pleasing 
throughout, and the grouping of the variations is very much 
the same as in the first set. That Joh. Christoph Bach's talent 
did not preponderate on this side is confirmed by the third 
of these little works fifteen variations on an air in A minor, 
in two sections of four bars each. These have all the pleasing 
characteristics of the two others, but give us nothing essen- 
tially new. In a few of the variations the organ character is 
conspicuous, as in the seventh, where, between the quiet 
crotchets of the upper parts a beautiful stream of semi- 
quavers is poured out in the tenor part ; in the eighth, where 
the same thing happens in the alto ; and in the twelfth, 
which has the cantus firmus in the bass. The counterpoint 
is masterly, and makes the loss of all the composer's really 
important organ works the more to be regretted. Moreover, 
the resemblance to Sebastian Bach's A minor variations 
is here still more conspicuous, and cannot be merely 
accidental. 159 

It may not only be assumed but can be proved that Joh. 
Christoph Bach further cultivated this branch. Gerber 
possessed a little paper volume containing an air in B flat 
major with variations; the copyist had broken off at the fourth, 
but the volume was calculated to contain nearly twenty. 160 
The whole has now been lost, but the air can be restored from 
other sources. It appeared in the Geistreiches Gesang- 
buch, published at Darmstadt, in 1698, and is set to 
Neander's hymn, " Komm, o komm, du Geist des Lebens "; 
from thence it was transferred to Freylinghausen's 
Gesangbuch. It was afterwards used to the words of 
Countess Ludamilia Elisabeth, "Jesus, Jesus, nichts als 

lst I myself possess the autograph of the second set of variations. Before 
the theme of the second it is written : "Aria Eberliniana \ pro dormente 
Ca- 1 millo, \ Variata d Joh. \ Christoph Bach, org : \ Metis. Mart. ao~. 1690. ( " 
The third, now in the possession of Herr W. Krankling, of Dresden, has only 
the initials " J. C. B." above, to the right. Both are in small quarto, and 
very neatly written. 

" Gerber, N. L., I., col. 209. 

j. c. BACH'S SONS. 131 

Jesus." Since it is not known to what song probably a 
secular one it originally belonged, no decisive opinion can 
be pronounced on the merit of this simple melody. As a 
chorale melody it is neither better nor worse than most of 
that period. It can, however, scarcely be doubted that it 
was invented by Joh. Christoph himself, since, if it were not, 
some remark would have been made as to its origin, as in 
the case of the air in E flat major. 

All has now been told which can be known regarding the 
two gifted sons of Heinrich Bach. The whole field of their 
work a mirror from which their complete identity might 
have been reflected is broken up and dispersed; we can 
only gather the principal features from solitary fragments, 
and piece them together in imagination as best we may. If 
I have not succeeded in this, so much at any rate is clear, 
that they well deserved to survive as artistic individualities 
in the memory of posterity ; while, if I have, it is a clear 
gain for the comprehension of their own time as well as of 
the art of Sebastian Bach, their younger and more glorious 
relative. It will still be necessary to glance at their direct 



THE only son of Johann Michael Bach died soon after his 
birth. Johann Christoph, however, had four sons, of whom 
the eldest was the most remarkable. This one, Johann 
Nikolaus, was Organist to the Town and University of 
Jena in 1695. He made a journey into Italy shortly after, 
as it would seem, in the company of Georg Bertuch, of 
Helmershausen, in Franconia, who had studied for a time at 
Jena as a talented amateur, and subsequently entered the 
Danish army, rising at last to be commandant of the fortress 
of Aggershuus, in Norway. When he returned to Jena, 
Nikolaus Bach fulfilled his duties there indefatigably till his 
death for fifty-eight years in all. He died at the age of 
eighty-four, November 4, 1753. the last and most vigorous 

K 2 


offshoot of a gifted branch, and he had for years been the 
eldest surviving member of his family. 161 He married, in 
1697, Anna Amalia Baurath, the daughter of a goldsmith of 
Jena ; she died on April 14, 1713, and he married again 
on October 13 of the same year, Anna Sibylla Lange, 
daughter of the sometime pastor of Isserstedt. Of the 
ten children which he had by her, five died quite young, 
and of the sons Johann Christian (1717-1738) alone arri- 
ved at maturity ; 162 none survived the father. Nikolaus 
Bach was known to his contemporaries as a diligent com- 
poser of Suites, and we must be contented with a repeti- 
tion of their verdict. 163 A Mass of his, however, remains, 
which shows that he possessed no inconsiderable talent 
for compositions of another kind, and that he was a 
true artist and worthy of his great father. 164 It is a short 
Mass, comprising only the Kyrie and Gloria, the first in E 
minor, the second in G major, for two violins, two violas, 
soprano, alto, tenor, bass, organ, and basso continuo : in the 
Gloria an additional part is added either for a voice or an 
instrument. The work is of great interest, both for its sub- 
stance and its technical perfection. Its style melodic, har- 
monic, and rhythmic approaches nearly to that of the 
contemporary Italian masters, especially of Antonio Lotti, 
both in the considerate and effective treatment of the vocal 
parts and in the orchestration; two, and on one occasion, 
four violas being used. It bears the character of general 

161 The dates are from Walther's Lexicon, and from the parish register at 
Jena. The date of his death has hitherto been always erroneously given as 1740; 
and curiously enough, even by his own relations, namely, in the Emmert 

162 The Emmert genealogy gives the number of sons as two, but the whole 
number was really four. 

168 Adlung, Anl. zur mus. Gelahrtheit, p. 706. 

164 The Mass is in the Royal Library at Berlin, and in the Royal Libraiy at 
Konigsberg, in Prussia (No. 13,866). The latter copy is one made by Schicht 
in September, 1815, and bears the title: Messa a 9 voci da Giov. Nicolo Bach, 
figlio di Giov. Cristofforo Bach, e Zio di Giov. Sebastiano Bach. There is also 
another copy, probably made by Joh. Ludwig Bach, in the possession of 
Messrs. Breitkopf and Hartel, at Leipzig. This is dated September 16,1716, 
so that the date (1734) of the Berlin copy cannot mean the original date of 


solemn rejoicing rather than of subjectively religious con- 
templation. With the Gloria is interwoven the chorale 
which represents it in the Protestant worship, " Allein Gott 
in der Hoh sei Ehr" "Glory to God alone on high "of 
which one verse only is sung simultaneously with the four 
movements, Gloria in excelsis Deo; Laudamus te, benedicimus 
te; Domine fili unigenite ; Quoniam tu solus sanctus. The 
fugue Cum Sancto Spiritu, at the end, has no chorale. In the 
whole work there is an exclusively German and Protestant 
element, which could only be fitly treated according to the 
method established by the Protestant composers. In it two 
entirely distinct varieties of style are therefore fused to form 
one whole. The character of the chorale under considera- 
tion here facilitated the task which, as we must allow, is 
perfectly worked out by Nikolaus Bach, and with the com- 
pletest mastery of technical requirements. 

The chorale melody is placed in the soprano register, and 
may have been originally intended, not for the voice, but for 
an instrument, as a trumpet or horn, since a soprano solo 
would have been quite inaudible in the midst of the almost 
uninterrupted soprano and alto of the four-part chorus. 
The actual setting of the chorale for the voice was done 
later; it occurs in this way in the score in question, in 
which, moreover, a rhymed translation of the hymn into 
Latin is given, as well as the original, because the mixture 
of German and Latin words would sound unpleasant. 
Sebastian Bach has adopted the same method in the Kyrie 
of his Mass in F, where the chorale, " Christe, du Lamm 
Gottes," is given to the horns; this latter instance, however, 
is as far above the former as the German style is above the 
Italian in depth and intensity of expression. 165 It is curious 
to observe the two cousins as representatives of two such 
radically different art-tendencies in solving the same problem. 
Nikolaus Bach had, like his father, bestowed the most careful 
study upon the Italian masters, and, by uniting their charac- 

165 In Sebastian Bach's work, the chorale was sometimes given to a soprano 
voice, as is shown by a manuscript in the Royal Library at Berlin. B.-G., 
Vol. VIII., p. xiv. 


teristics with his national music, succeeded in producing 
something in this Mass peculiarly his own. Still, in general, 
it must be said that the Protestant chorale does not coalesce 
with the Italian style of sacred music, and that the experiment 
probably could only succeed with this particular melody, 
considering its character. To enable Nikolaus Bach to 
arrive at the highest point of this branch of art, he must 
have opened out the way afterwards followed by Handel, 
have disregarded the exclusively Protestant point of view 
and its essentially individual nature, and have striven to take 
his stand on the freer and more general ground of human 
devotion. But this was denied to him by the circumstances 
of his time, and it may be, too, by his natural predilections. 
On the other hand, the Italian style could not avail him, 
and the only track that could lead to the ideal was that 
followed by his great cousin, Sebastian, who engrafted his 
own peculiar vocal style on the German art of the organ. 
But, as I have said, the masterliness with which this Mass is 
written is quite perfect, both in the Kyrie, which is not too 
much amplified, and of which the excellent fugato at the 
end might, as it stands, have been written by Lotti, and 
in the Gloria with its many movements. Here we are 
especially surprised to see how independently the four-part 
choir surround and adorn the chorale tune, how rich the inven- 
tion is, how different and various the feeling of all the separate 
ideas which are so independent, and yet so linked together by 
the continual recurrence of the chorale. A brilliant fugue 
crowns the work, which it is to be hoped, if only for its historical 
interest, may once more become generally known, and which, 
it may safely be said, would not fail of its full effect even in 
the present day. 

As chance would have it, we are able to contrast with this 
composition, which transports us into the world of the highest 
ideal, another work by the same master, which is entirely 
founded on the most downright realism ; it is a comic Sing- 
spiel, or operetta. And this chance is an especially happy 
one, because it adds to the portrait we have been endeavour- 
ing to give, of the manner of life of the Bach family, a strongly 
marked feature, which must of necessity be absolutely true 


to nature. However much the minds of these people were 
devoted to the sublimest and gravest things, they stood on the 
earth with a healthy firmness, they showed a capability 
of joining pleasantly from time to time in the trivial amuse- 
ments of their fellow-men, and had eyes and understandings 
to enjoy the cheerful and comic side of the ordinary life that 
lay around them. The more transcendent the flight of genius 
and fancy is, so much the more does the necessity of mixing 
busily, and even unrestrainedly, in the world around press 
upon every properly constituted man. This rule, taught by 
experience, is confirmed by the lives of all our great artists. 
The occasional hearty enjoyment of rough and audacious 
jokes was a special characteristic of the whole Bach family. 
If we did not know this from good authority, proof enough 
would be found in the fact that, beside those members of the 
family who were employed in churches or schools, so many of 
them belonged to the easy-going body of the "town-pipers." 
The fact of belonging to this body presupposes this trait of 
character, and that it was not absent in other members of 
the family is proved, even before we learn it from Sebastian 
Bach's own works, by the burlesque written with such plea- 
sure by his cousin Nikolaus. It is entitled " The Wine and 
Beer-cryer of Jena," 166 and is a merry scene from student-life, 
suitable in its form to the German opera of the time, which 
flourished particularly well in Hamburg. The performance, 
of course, was by students on some special occasion or other. 
The simple plot is as follows. Two young students, Peter 
and demon, of whom the second is a " crasser Fuchs " 
(green freshman), come in singing a song in praise of Jena, 
the seat of the Muses. They are very much afraid of being 
cheated by the Jena people, and determine to go to the 
house of the innkeeper, Caspar, who is a countryman of 
theirs, and has been known to Peter before. He receives 
them, puts the timid youths at their ease by singing the 

166 Der | Jenaische Wein- und \ Bierrufer. \ a \ 2 Violini, \ Alto, Monsieur 
Peter. \ Tenore i, Monsieur demon. \ Tenore 2, Herr Johannes. \ Basso, 
Monsieur Caspar. \ ed \ Fondamento \ von Joh. Nicol. Bach. | The parts are 
in the Royal Library at Berlin. 


song "Bin Fuchs ist gar ein narrisch Thier" (The fresh- 
man is a simpleton), and begins a condescendingly cordial 
conversation with them. The " green " Clemon then an- 
nounces the important news, from his home, that his 
"Father's turned his coat, Mother's burnt the fur," when 
the crier is heard in the street, shouting out " Good foreign 
wine." This attracts attention, and the crier, with comic 
dignity, announces in an aria his standing and reputation. 
The host adds that he is an "honest Philistine," but that he 
has to endure many tricks, and be the amusement of the 
company by being insulted and spit upon. After this it 
happens that the bold Peter and the frightened Clemon, as 
well as the landlord, go to the window and air their wits by 
ridiculing the crier, who keeps going by, and who answers 
them readily enough in a rough and cynical style. At length 
it gets worse, they come to blows, and the crier threatens 
to complain of the freshmen to the Rector. 167 They are 
alarmed and retire; a charming aria for four voices, treating 
of the adventures of the Jena students, is the conclusion. 

The joke in its dramatic form may have arisen from some 
real scrape ; it hits off the rough life of the place, and the 
crier, Johannes, in particular, seems to be intended for a 
similar personage well known in Jena at the time. The 
same realism pervades the music, especially in the recitatives 
that accompany the course of the action. The way that Bach 
makes Johannes call out, imitating in a jocular way the actual 
intonation of such people, the short insulting phrases, ejacu- 
lated by the rogues in the window, are a very successful piece 
of " speaking music "; and it is very amusing when the old 
fellow replies in a very rapid speaking voice to his assailers, 
and then, almost without taking breath, goes on with his 
regular business. The enjoyment with which the composer 
has here copied the quaint reality is unmistakable, and it is 
very evident that he must have lived on the best of terms with 
the students. 168 But the whole thing is perfect in proportion 

187 The highest academical dignitary. 

168 Compare on this point a remark by the Cantor Caspar Ruetz, who studied 
theology at Jena from 1728 to 1730; in Marpurg's Historisch-critische Beytrage 
Berlin, 1754, p. 360. 


and form. Bach never for a moment forgets that he is an artist, 
just as Mozart, in the same kind of jokes, could approach as 
nearly as possible to truth of nature, and yet make lovely 
music. The interspersed arias, in which the music assumes 
its due prominence, are of that small calibre which came 
into use in the German opera, as intermediate between the 
German song of the seventeenth century and the fully 
developed Italian aria. They show great freshness, and 
frequently a very quaint humour, and are very skilfully 

As to Nikolaus Bach's skill as a performer we have no 
information, and of his organ compositions there is only to be 
found a two-part treatment of the chorale " Nun freut euch, 
lieben Christen g'mein " " Sing and be glad, all Christian 
folk," in Pachelbel's style ; but it is too small and un- 
important to found an opinion upon. 169 What went further than 
his compositions to establish his fame was an extraordinary 
power and ingenuity in the construction of instruments. 
When Jakob Adlung, who was afterwards Professor in the 
Erfurt Academy and Organist of the Prediger-Kirche there, 
was studying at Jena, Bach sometimes allowed the poor but 
industrious youth to practise on his organ. By this means 
it seems that a nearer friendship sprang up between the two, 
and Adlung has repaid Bach's kindness by frequent mention 
of him in his writings, and thus, through his agency, many 
an important trait is preserved to posterity. The Town 
Church in Jena got in 1706 a new organ, with three manuals 
and pedal, and forty-four stops in all. This organ was built 
by an organ-maker named Sterzing, according to Bach's 
detailed specification, and under his continual supervision. 170 
At this time Johann Georg Neidhardt, the musician to whom 
the demonstration of the equal temperament is due, and 
who was afterwards Capellmeister at Konigsberg, was study- 
ing theology in Jena. He was even at that time devoting 
his attention to the most practicable way of distributing the 

199 In the possession of Herr Musikdirector Ritter, in Magdeburg. 
170 Adlung, Musica mechanica organoedi. Berlin, 1768, Vol. I., p. 174, and 
pp. 244-245. See also Vol. II., p. 37. 


ditonic comma, in which he agreed on all essential points 
with Andreas Werkmeister. He hoped to arrive at the 
equal temperament on the organ by means of agreement 
with the monochord, a narrow box with one string stretched 
across it, on the top of which were marked, with mathematic 
accuracy, the proportions of the intervals with regard to the 
distribution of the comma, so that by the introduction of a 
small bridge at the proper place the required tone could be 
got with certainty. He now asked permission to be allowed 
to employ this new method of tuning on the new organ, and 
obtained leave to make an experiment on it. Bach let him 
tune the gedackt of one manual by the monochord, and him- 
self tuned that of another manual only by ear. When the 
result was heard, Bach's gedackt sounded right and 
Neidhardt's wrong. He, however, would not admit that his 
method was in fault, but a steady singer was brought in and 
made to sing a chorale in the unusual key of B flat minor, and 
he agreed with Bach's tuning. Neidhardt had not taken 
into consideration the fact that the pitch of the string at 
the moment of striking is somewhat higher than it is 
afterwards, nor how easily such a string gets out of tune. 
The incident shows, however, that Bach, although thoroughly 
experienced in mechanical matters, still was strictly an artist 
enough to trust more to his feeling than to an abstract 
theory. Of course, to tune by the hearing alone is extremely 
difficult for unpractised ears. And thus it occurred to him to 
obviate those errors of the monochord which came from the 
nature of the string, while keeping the mathematical stan- 
dard. For this he used a pipe of the same width through- 
out, which he placed over a well-regulated bellows of even 
action. A cylinder marked according to the distances of 
the intervals was passed into the pipe, and the required 
tone was got by pushing it in or out to the corresponding 
point in the pipe. 171 The practical usefulness of this 
invention seems, however, to be hampered by the difficulty 
caused by the greater or less density of all kinds of wood. 
Bach had a considerable reputation, as has been said, for 

171 Adlung, Mus, mech. org., Vol. II., pp. 54, 56. Anl. zur mus. Gel., p. 311. 


knowledge of organ-building, and other organists came to 
him for advice. When we read of the many complaints 
that were made of ignorant and incompetent organists, we 
can imagine that these gentlemen must have stood in no 
little need of advice and instruction. On one occasion, one 
of these wanted Bach to agree to the extraordinary view 
that a sixteen-foot " Principal " on the manual could only 
be used with a thirty-two-foot "Principal" on the pedal, 
and not a sixteen-foot. Bach must have shared his enjoy- 
ment of this with Adlung, who tells the anecdote. 172 He 
surely replied to this clever organist that, if he could 
not combine a sixteen-foot stop on the manual with a 
stop of the same depth on the pedal, a thirty-two-foot 
sub-bass would answer the same purpose as a "Principal" 
of the same kind. 

He seems to have inherited his uncle Michael's skill in 
the construction of claviers, and since the Bachs always 
went to members of their own family for instruction, he may 
have received his first impulses in this direction, and even 
his first instruction, from his uncle. All his instruments 
were remarkable for elegance, neat workmanship, and 
easy action, 173 and he was eagerly bent on improving their 
mechanism too. For claviers with more than one set of 
strings, he discovered a way by which he could regulate the 
sounding of sometimes one, sometimes another set of strings, 
or all together, with greater certainty than by the usual 
draw-stops. At the back of the key-board, 174 just where the 
jacks (i.e., those thin pieces of wood at the top of which the 
crowquills that pluck the strings are fastened) are raised 
up by pressure on the keys, he cut several notches ; so that, 
by pushing in the key-board to different distances, the jacks 
of one or other set of strings, or of both together, came over 
the notches, and were raised, by pressure on the keys, from, 
and not with the key-board. In this way Bach could get 

172 Mus. mech. org., Vol. I., p. 187. 
Adlung, Vol. II., p. 138. 

174 u Paimula," originally the name for the key-board of the ancient organ, 
afterwards applied to that of the harpsichord or clavier. 


seven different changes on a clavier with three sets of 
strings, by using either the first, second, or third alone, or 
the first and second, first and third, or second and third 
together, or all three together. 175 In the usual method of 
construction it was so arranged that each time the jacks 
were used for all the sets of strings, there was a danger of 
their being slightly displaced, and so not striking the right 

Adlung further praises Bach's excellent " Lautenclaviere," 
or lute harpsichords. 176 He cannot be considered the inventor 
of these instruments, which were an attempt to combine the 
soft, tremulous tone of the lute with the clavier action. This 
honour is rather due to his contemporary, J. Chr. Fleischer, 
of Hamburg. The inventive geniuses of the time busied 
themselves greatly with projects of this kind, because the 
tone of the clavier was felt to be so hard and expressionless. 
Sebastian Bach even had one made in Leipzig, according to a 
plan of his own. His cousin Nikolaus managed his invention 
with such skill that if it were heard without being seen it 
would be supposed to be a real lute. He made these instru- 
ments of different forms, sometimes with two or even three 
manuals, and by the addition of a fifth octave got the effect 
of a theorbo, a deeper instrument of similar character with 
the lute. A "Lautenclavicymbel," with three manuals, 
was sold by him for about sixty Reichsthaler. 

His youngest brother, Johann Michael, followed a some- 
what similar course ; he learnt the art of organ-building, and 
then went off to foreign parts. He went north, and possibly 
to Stockholm, where in the second and third decades of the 
eighteenth century, Jakob Bach, a brother of Sebastian, 
lived as Hofmusicus. His German relations quite lost sight 
of him. 177 The dates of his birth and death cannot be given ; 
the former seems to have been somewhere between 1680-90. 

Johann Christoph, too, the second son, disregarded the 

174 Adlung describes this mechanism with diagrams, at Vol. II., pp. 108-9. See 
also his Anl. zur mus. Gel., p. 555. 

176 And describes them at length in his Mus. mech. org.,Vol. II., pp. 135-138. 

177 According to the genealogy. 


old family traditions, and turned his back upon his home and 
country. He was engaged in teaching the clavier, first in 
Erfurt and Hamburg, then for a time in Rotterdam, and, 
until 1730, in England; 178 but, as far as our information goes, 
he held no fixed office abroad. 179 

Finally, the third, Johann Friedrich, the year of whose 
birth must be placed between 1674 and 1678, seems to have 
studied theology ; he took the post of Organist of the Blasius 
Church at Miihlhausen, in 1708, when it was left by 
Sebastian Bach. His salary, paid out of the church chest, 
was 43 thalers, 2 gute groschen, and 8 pfennig, with 10 gute 
groschen, 8 pfennig on New Year's Day, and, moreover, 
for weddings with full choral service, 12 gute groschen, 
and for those with only hymns, 6 gute groschen an 
income which has an interest when compared with that of 
Sebastian. He was at first only taken on trial, but he 
cannot have had to wait long for the definite appointment. 
By all accounts he was a highly gifted artist, and of great 
executive ability, well versed in the art of organ-building 
even at the end of his life he provided the specification for 
the repairs of the organ of the Blasius Church. Heinrich 
Gerber, who, before going to Sebastian Bach at Leipzig, 
had been for some time at the Miihlhausen Gymnasium, 
praised his talents all his life long, and declared that he had 
learnt all he knew of the organ from hearing Friedrich 
Bach. He gave no instruction, nor indeed could he, since, 
alas ! he had weakened and degraded his noble gifts by the 
bane of his life, an inordinate love of drink ; and is even said 
to have performed the services when in a state of intoxi- 
cation ; he was incapable, even when sober, of any artistic 
inspiration. 180 His surroundings were not of a kind to tear 
him away from these habits, for the time had long gone by 
when Miihlhausen had been celebrated for its musicians ; 
this had already been felt by Sebastian Bach. Johann 
Friedrich was married but had no children. He died in 

m Walther's Lexicon, p. 63. 

179 The Kittel genealogy says that he had an only son, who died unmarried. 

180 Gerber. N. L., I., cols. 208 and 210. Lexicon, I., cols 490 and 491. See 
Appendix A, No. 7. 


I73O, 181 and furnishes evidence of the fact, already proved by 
experience, that talents transmitted by highly gifted parents 
are often dangerous and even baleful to the children. 



WE come finally to Hans Bach's second son, the grandfather 
of Sebastian. He was born at Wechmar, April 19, 1613, and 
named Christoph. He likewise selected the calling of musi- 
cian. In the account of his elder brother, it has already been 
mentioned that he resided for a time at the Grand Ducal 
Court at Weimar ; there he is said to have been in " wait- 
ing on the Prince," 182 by which we must understand in addi- 
tion some musical duty in the Court band, which at that 
time was frequently associated with the post of lackey. 
About the year 1640, he must have removed from Weimar 
to Prettin, in Saxony, 183 and there lived by his art, for he took 
to wife a daughter of the town, Maria Magdalena Grabler, 
born September 18, 1614, whose father was probably a town- 
musician there. 184 In 1642 we find him a member of the 
guild of musicians in Erfurt, whence he removed, in 1653 
or 1654, to Arnstadt, the residence of his younger brother, 
Heinrich. 185 Here he died, only forty-eight years of age, as 
court and town-musician to the Count, September 14, 1661, 
and his widow followed him on October 8 of the same year. 186 

181 As follows from the document just referred to, which agrees with the 
statement in Walther's Lexicon, p. 64. 

182 According to the genealogy. 

IBS Not Wettin, as it is written in the Ferrich genealogy, and has also been 

184 My attempts to establish this officially have proved fruitless. 

185 In the archives of Sondershausen occurs a small document referring to him, 
of November 13, 1654, while his name occurs in the parish register of Erfurt 
on April 16, 1653. 

186 This date, differing from that given in the genealogy, is from the register 
of Arnstadt. 


Of the three brothers, Christoph Bach with his sons most 
exclusively represent the guild of secular " Kunstpfeifer," 
as they were called (musicians attached to the town, and 
with certain privileges and duties), while Heinrich and his 
sons filled the highest posts in the service of the church 
as organists and composers, and Johann was capable of 
filling either. The guilds of musicians were, during the 
God-forsaken period of the Thirty Years' War, more sunk in 
barbarism and rudeness than any other class, and were for 
this reason regarded with very wide-spread suspicion. We 
have no record to show that Christoph Bach stood forth as a 
pattern of moral worth and immaculate civic virtue, in con- 
trast to the general reprobateness of his class. But when 
we consider the incorruptible soundness of a race which, 
even in such times as these, could produce such worthy men 
as Heinrich Bach in whose society his elder brother spent 
his later years and which, two generations later, gave birth 
to a genius of the first order, we are fain to believe in the 
unspoiled nature of Sebastian's grandfather. It would be 
an insult to the spirit of the noble grandson, in whom the 
whole great spirit of the German nation was, in fact, 
revealed, if we did not also believe that Christoph Bach 
keenly felt the shortcomings of his class, and had a higher 
conception of its dignity, and asserted it too, than was at 
that time generally held with regard to instrumental musi- 
cians for the most part with too good reason. 

It may seem somewhat high-flown to seek for such a 
consciousness of superior artistic dignity among simple 
fiddlers and pipers; but it is a certain fact that, in 
the fiftieth year of the seventeenth century, a con- 
viction asserted itself among the best of them that it was 
their duty to make the most vigorous efforts to raise 
themselves once more to honour and consideration. It is 
a token, not to be undervalued, of the great significance of 
instrumental music in German culture, that the people, even 
to the present day, have not lost the feeling of its intrinsic- 
ally elevating power. Above all things it was needful to 
raise the musician, as such, in the estimation of his fellow- 
men. The art had then, no doubt, long constituted a guild; 


but it was in the nature of the occupation, which frequently 
led the members to wander through the country, and at the 
same time could set no fixed limit line between the amateur 
and the professional, that the protection of the law should 
prove very ineffectual. In point of fact, complaints as to 
insults to their calling, on the part of musicians, were ex- 
tremely common, and increased in number as, during the 
course of the century, their self-respect and esprit de corps 
grew in opposition to the " beer-fiddlers," as they were 
termed. If even in time of peace any due control was 
impracticable, the utmost lawlessness must have prevailed 
during the thirty years of anarchy. A voluntary association 
of larger districts, constituted after the fashion of a guild, 
by which the members pledged themselves to the mutual 
protection of certain common interests, and to the obser- 
vance of strict moral principles was, no doubt, a very 
suitable means to this end. Even if the artist was thus 
regarded chiefly as an artisan, still some kind of objective 
counterpoise was provided to that perilous force, tending to 
disintegrate social morality, which is inherent in music 
above all other arts. 

In the year 1653, the town-musicians of the principal 
towns of North and Central Germany did actually combine 
in such a union, under the name of the " College or Union of 
Instrumental Musicians of the district of Upper and Lower 
Saxony, and other interested places" (Instrumental-Mmikal- 
ischen Collegiums in dem ober- und niedersachsischen Kreise und 
anderer interessirter Oerter.) They drew up statutes, which 
they submitted to the Emperor Ferdinand III. for his 
ratification, and had them printed and distributed. These 
not only give plain information as to the purpose of the 
union, but throw so clear a light on the morals and z'wmorals 
of musical life at that period, that they must be here repro- 
duced at length. 187 

187 A copy of this broad sheet, now probably very scarce, is preserved in the 
town archives of Miihlhausen. The complete title is : " The Imperial 
CONFIRMATION of the Articles of the Union of Instrumental Musicians in 
the Districts of Upper and Lower Saxony, and other interested places." Folio. 
The German original is antiquated in style, full of quaint spelling and pro- 
vincialisms, and the expressions and punctuation are also unusual. 


"I. No member of this musical college (union) shall of 
his own accord settle himself to exercise his art in any town, 
office, or convent where one of our society is already esta- 
blished and appointed, nor shall he deprive him of any of his 
'attendances,' unless it be that he exercises some other 
branch, or that he is called thither by the authorities of the 
place ; and the musician already established shall be assured 
that no damage shall ensue to his perquisites, or that at least 
he may be protected from harm or loss. 

"II. Every sodalis, when he is actually appointed in any 
place, shall take pains and care to see that the annual 
payment previously given to his predecessors ex publico is 
continued to him without reduction or diminution ; and 
because, before now, the noble art and its votaries have 
fallen into no small contempt, and many honourable men 
engaged in its service have even been driven out of place, by 
other men offering themselves to perform at * attendances ' 
for the bare perquisites, every musician shall guard himself 
to the utmost against such contracts, which are degrading to 
him and to the art. 

"III. Inasmuch as Almighty God is wont marvellously to 
distribute His grace and favours, giving and lending to one 
much and to another little, therefore no man may contemn 
another by reason that he can perform on a better sort of 
musical instrument ; much less may he be boastful on that 
account, but be diligent in Christian love and gentleness, and 
thus walk in his art, first of all to the honour and glory of 
God most High, to the edification of his neighbour, and so 
as to enjoy and maintain at all times a good report of his 
honourable conduct in the eyes of men. 

" IV. To the end that every town may at all times be 
provided with a skilled and duly qualified musician, and that 
others, particularly assistants and apprentices, may be urged 
to more industry and constant practice, at all times when 
one is called in the regular manner to such an office, and 
subsequently required to give a testimonial to his efficiency, 
two of the neighbouring teachers, together with a skilled 
assistant, shall subscribe it, who shall also examine him par- 
ticularly as to his art, and listen to his proof and mastery 



(Meister-Recht) in playing the pieces prepared for that end, 
and to be found in the library of the board of the society. 

" V. No man, whether he be master, assistant, or appren- 
tice, shall divert himself by singing or performing coarse 
obscenities or disgraceful and immodest songs or ballads, 
inasmuch as they greatly provoke the wrath of Almighty 
God and vex decent souls, particularly the innocence of youth. 
Moreover, in considerable meetings and gatherings, those 
who serve the noble art of music are thereby brought into 
the greatest contempt. 

"VI. On the contrary, every man who is called upon to 
serve an 'attendance ' shall conduct himself decently, honour- 
ably, and becomingly, and not himself alone but also the 
assistants with him ; but still he shall not be weary of 
cheering and delighting the company present by means of 
musica instrumentalis et vocalis. 

"VII. Every one shall, so far as in him lies, take special 
care to have around him pious and faithful assistants, as well 
as apprentices of good report, so that at public meetings and 
'attendances ' nothing may be stolen from the invited guests, 
nor the whole musical college ill spoken of, nor innocent folks 
led into suspicion and danger. 

" VIII. No man shall dare to perform on dishonourable 
instruments, such as bagpipes, sheep-horns, hurdy-gurdies, 
and triangles, which beggars often use for collecting alms at 
house-doors, so that the noble art would be brought into 
contempt and disgrace by them. 

" IX. In specie shall every man abstain from all blasphe- 
mous talk, profane cursing and swearing ; but if any man 
sin in this matter, he shall be punished for it by his master 
and fellows, according to their measure and the atrocity and 
frequency of his sinning ; nay, he may even be expelled from 
the society. 

" X. No man shall dare to give 'attendance' with jugglers, 
hangmen, bailiffs, gaolers, conjurors, rogues, or any other 
such low company ; but, on the contrary, each one shall 
rather shun and avoid them, and keep wholly and solely with 
the society, for the preservation of his good fame and report. 
" XI. Likewise, no master shall receive an apprentice from 


the above-named sort of folks, or from any other unfit person ; 
but those who are bound apprentice to acquire the art of 
music shall not only be of respectable birth, but themselves 
have committed no crime by which they have incurred 
infamiam juris; but each apprentice, when he is bound, shall 
show his certificate of birth, drawn up according to law, and 
sworn to by two credible and respectable witnesses, and it 
shall be preserved by the nearest board of the musical 
college till he has honestly and dutifully served his appren- 
ticeship, and may so be provided with a good character and 

"XII. And to the end that a perfect musician, may have 
been taught many instruments, some pneumatica and some 
pulsatilia, and be practised in them, no apprentice shall be free 
under five years, that he may be experienced in his art and 
acknowledged as skilled. And at his binding two of the 
nearest masters of the art and a skilled assistant shall always 
be present, and in their presence two copies of the indentures 
shall be prepared (of which one shall be kept by him who is 
intrusted with the discipline and teaching of the apprentice, 
and the other delivered to the apprentice's parents, guar- 
dians, or other relatives) ; and more particularly they shall 
remind an4 exhort the apprentice earnestly and diligently to 
constant prayer, faithful service, industrious labour, and to pay 
all due respect and obedience to his master and teacher. 

"XIII. To the end that the apprentice, when his time is 
out and he is thenceforth free, may be all the more perfect, 
he shall, for the next three years before he settles himself, 
serve as assistant to other famous masters. But, as among 
mechanica artifieia or common artisans, by dint of long cus- 
tom, the sons and daughters of masters have acquired this 
privilege and advantage, that they are not always obliged to 
pass so long a time as assistants, and in travelling ; so like- 
wise the sons of the masters in this noble art of music : item, 
also those who may have married their daughters, after they 
have served one year as assistants, may be exempt from the 
remainder, and not pass the remaining tests of mastery. 

" XIV. So soon as any man shall have served his appren- 
ticeship, and is qualified thenceforth to attend as assistant, 

L 2 


certain articles shall be laid before him and made known to 
him, of which he shall make use when he comes into strange 
places in making his greetings ; whereby masters who are 
strangers to him may find out whether the members and 
servants of our musical college behave in accordance with 
the prescribed articles, and have due and sufficient know- 
ledge of them. 

" XV. And when this musical college has been throughout 
established and settled with special articles and rules, to the 
end that it may be protected against meddlers and bunglers 
as in all other far less honourable corpora, as companies, cor- 
porations, and guilds and that, whoever bears love and good- 
will to this most noble art of music may be all the more 
incited and urged to learn it from the very foundation, all 
and each of the members of our college shall banish from 
him all disturbers and bunglers, and in the 'attendances' 
required of him shall never hold any communication with 
them ; but during the years of study make good use of his 
time, so as to become right skilful and clever in music, and 
thus be always preferred and chosen with reason above such 
botchers and bunglers. 

"XVI. In case of any dissension or strife arising between 
the members of the college or their relatives? whereby 
any one is hurt by contempt of his honest name and good 
report, or is injured in any other undeserved manner, or by 
which he may even be deprived of his income, the injured 
party shall be empowered to inform six of the masters settled 
in the neighbourhood, who then, at a fitting time, shall call 
both parties to appear before the district board, and shall 
there hear and receive the account of their difference, and 
then, with the consent of three assistants, shall commit 
the party found guilty, whether the plaintiff or the accused, 
to fitting punishment, and hold him responsible for the costs 
occasioned by the matter. 

"XVII. As concerns the payment of assistants, each one 
shall be free to deal with them at each place and on each 
occasion as he thinks proper and just, nevertheless, according 
to the work in question ; and the bargain shall at once be set 
on paper and a copy of the agreement shall be taken by each 


into his keeping, so that the one party may be bound to pay 
and the other to serve willingly and faithfully, and that they 
may have reason to live peaceably together. 

" XVIII. Since also one might dare to oust an old master 
of our art out of his office, by what way or means, or under 
what semblance or pretext it matters not, and to insinuate 
himself into his post, therefore any man who seeks his own 
advancement by the above-mentioned unseemly means, and 
ousts another, our college shall dispossess him, and his assis- 
tants who ought to serve him, and he shall no longer be 
suffered in it. Inasmuch as venerable age, if accompanied by 
weakness, easily falls into contempt (all the former long years 
of great labour, pains, and service being forgotten), and youth 
generally preferred above it ; if such weakness and impotency 
in a musician of great age, holding an appointment, should 
be so great that he cannot fulfil his duties, or only with much 
difficulty, and that the service of God and other attendances 
must necessarily be provided for ; in that case some one 
shall be empowered to serve as a substitute for the old man ; 
nevertheless, the old man shall enjoy half of the salary and 
his share of the profits, and all the remaining days of his life 
he shall be duly respected by the substitute or coadjutor, 
who shall in all things, if he is not unfit, give the precedence 
to him, and await the blessing of the Lord ; and all he does 
well and kindly for the old man shall be highly esteemed and 
regarded by every one, and God the most High shall surely 
one day reward him and repay him. 

" XIX. And because the labourer is worthy of his hire, 
and that it may be withheld from none, every man who is 
bound to hold himself ready in the towns or otherwise to 
perform music to order, must himself take good care that 
his assistants and helpmates are justly paid, and to dismiss 
no man till he has received his arrears of pay ; in the con- 
trary case, no other assistant will be permitted to take the 
vacant post and service. 

" XX. On the other hand, the assistants in a service to 
which they have once agreed to be appointed must labour 
diligently, must set a good example to the young apprentices 
of the decency that beseems them, and, above all, pay all due 


respect to the Principals under whom they have taken ser- 
vice, and on that account must show no boldness towards 
them if they should imagine that they are better and more 
fundamentally experienced in their art than the Principal 

" XXI. Since, too, experience proves that many would fain 
fulfil the service they have undertaken with the aid of mere 
apprentices, while, on the other hand, sound sense must in- 
struct every one that tyros and apprentices, as in all other 
matters, so also in musical art, can never bring out any per- 
fect work ; and since in consequence hereof, both in public 
divine service and in other meetings, faults and defects occur, 
and not only does the director of such music incur all the 
blame but also great disgrace, and the noble art itself is 
thereby brought into contempt, no master shall be suffered 
or permitted to take or keep more than three apprentices 
at one time to instruct and discipline. 

" XXII. Every apprentice shall sign his own indentures 
when he is bound, or, if he cannot write, they shall be signed 
for him by his parents, guardian, or relations ; so that the 
bound apprentice shall be pledged to serve truly, entirely, and 
to the end, all the years of apprenticeship named in the above 
twelfth article, and not to run away from his master during 
those years of apprenticeship ; but if one should be so aban- 
doned, and run away from his master during those years of 
apprenticeship, he shall not be taken by any other master 
under a penalty of ten thalers, nor shall he ever be suffered 
to be a member of this our musical college, but be held as 
reprobate. But if it should be found out that the apprentice 
quitted his master ob nimiam saevitiam, and that the master 
was thus in culpa, in that case the master shall be tried by 
six of the musical elders settled near by, for his neglect and 
other acknowledged damage to his apprentice, or to his 
parents or friends, and accounted guilty according to their 
just award. 

" XXIII. To the end that these articles as compiled by us 
may be the more exactly carried out, and that the sodales of 
this college may meet with the least cost and trouble, and 
at such meetings transact necessary matters, three boards 


shall be constituted, one in Meissen, the second in Brunswick, 
and the third in Pomerania or the Mark of Brandenburg, and 
established in whatever town may seem most convenient to 
the members of our college ; and these articles shall there be 
deposited and faithfully preserved, if not originaliter at least 
in authorised and certified copies, so that in all eventualities 
at the meetings of our college all actus and matters which 
may arise among musicans may be regulated and judged 
by them. 

"XXIV. And though indeed those who already belong to 
this musical college are not few in number, still admission 
shall not be refused or denied to any man who after due trial 
shall be discerned and held to be a skilled and worthy 
member of our society and union. 

" XXV. Now, finally, since evil morals and customs give 
cause and rise to good and wholesome laws, and since it is 
not possible so to extend these present articles as to set 
forth specialiter and expressly every case, the remaining cases 
shall be decided according to the independent judgment 
of the elders of the nearest place where there is a board, 
and ordered after the tenour of these articles, and remain 
decided according to their arbitrium, so that in the cases 
which occur they direct their view to that which is decent 
and permissible, and for the maintenance of this musical 
college ; that they burden no man beyond what is due and 
just ; that they do not let gross and inexcusable excesses 
pass unpunished ; to the end that all due submission and 
respect may be preserved for this our college, and above all 
for His Most Illustrious Majesty the Roman Emperor, and 
the ratification granted to it by our gracious Sovereign; 
and that the great and famous end may be attained which 
the originators of this useful work had in view from the 

If we call to mind what the "evil morals and customs" 
were against which a resolution is here pronounced even 
irrespective of the " special cases not here expressly set 
forth " we can form a very sufficient idea of how matters 
stood at that time among German musicians. It is im- 
possible to overlook the admirable earnestness of this effort 


to restore discipline, morality, and order; and the conviction 
that the noble art was worthy of a higher fate than to be 
universally despised and abused is delightfully prominent in 
these articles. The list of above a hundred names from the 
most important towns in the district concerned, which 
follows the articles, also proves that the desire for an 
improved state of things was very general ; and other places 
beyond the district, as Miihlhausen, in Thuringia, allied 
themselves to this Union of musicians. And though, during 
the times immediately following, the public estimate of the 
town-musicians Kunstpfeifer and Stadtmusikanten re- 
mained on the whole a low one, though it was said to their 
reproach that their executive practice took the place of all 
deeper musical knowledge, that they were uneducated, 
coarse, haughty, and pig-headed ; 188 though petty quarrels did 
not cease among them, still a few voices were raised to show 
that " many honourable and skilled men were yet among 
their number, diligent to walk pleasingly in the sight of God 
and man." 189 We must never allow ourselves to be misled 
into forming a too low estimate of the sound inmost core of 
these men, or of their importance in the history of German 
art. In every class more inferior and mediocre individuals 
are to be found than illustrious and distinguished ones; 
and, besides this, poverty and necessity pressed pretty 
equally on all, allowing none but conspicuous talents to 
expand and blossom freely. Still, they upheld the dignity 
of art in their own way, and aroused and fostered to the 
best of their powers the love and feeling for native art among 
the people, against the foreign influences to which the Courts 
and upper classes soon, for the most part, surrendered them- 
selves. And the people were not thankless, for they under- 
stood their worth and the ideal which gave vitality to their 
calling. To this day every itinerant musician who wanders 
round the country from house to house, singing his tunes, is 
a figure that appeals to the sympathies of every German 

188 Mattheson, Crltica musica, II., pp. 217 and 262. 
l * J J. Fr. Mente, in Mattheson's Ehrenpforte, p. 414. 


The regulations for the guild, in Article XXV., were of 
course not new, but were at any rate based on common 
custom, which was here merely recalled to men's memory, 
extended and insisted on. Still, they serve to give us a more 
general acquaintance with the mode of life of the town- 
musicians at that time, and consequently with the position 
of the Bach family. 

Christoph Bach must, no doubt, as I have hinted, have come, 
by his marriage, into close connection with the musicians 
of the district of Upper Saxony ; but there is no evidence to 
show that he was admitted as a member of their union. 
On the contrary, we may regard it as decidedly improbable 
that he, or any member of his family, ever belonged to it. 
The supposition rather forces itself upon us that they 
themselves, in their close and clinging intimacy, constituted 
such a body in Thuringia itself, though lacking countersigns 
and statutes. It has been already noted that the three 
towns which were the head-quarters of the Bachs Erfurt, 
Eisenach, and Arnstadt grew into importance at about the 
same time ; and nothing can seem fairer than the hypothesis 
that these musicians strove, with more or less distinct 
purpose, to reach the goal which must have shone before 
them particularly in those times of demoralisation among 
their competitors, and especially in Erfurt, as we see it in the 
fiftieth and sixtieth years of the century the upholding, 
namely, of the dignity of art and of their own position, within 
the pale of a patriarchal and exclusive family circle. And, 
if it were only to this limited extent that guild interest held 
them together, it is evident that in their pursuit of the art 
mere mechanical skill would hold a less important place. 
This is a circumstance worthy to be noted as raising them 
above their fellow-musicians to form a little circle of the 
elect. Since, moreover, the greater number of the family 
were in the service of churches and schools, as cantors and 
organists, and so represented, in their way, a portion of the 
higher culture of the time, their intimate mutual relations 
must have involved a relatively greater degree of personal 
cultivation than was then common among men of the same 
standing. The statement of a contemporary, that among a 


hundred musicians' assistants scarcely one was to be found 
who could write ten ordinary words without a mistake, 190 
cannot, under any circumstances or interpretation, apply to 
the Bachs. A further evidence of the spirit that reigned 
among them is to be found in the " family-days," which, for 
a long period, were annually observed by all the male 
members of the family in Erfurt, Eisenach, or Arnstadt. 
This custom was religiously kept up, even when Christoph 
Bach's eldest son transferred that branch of the family into 
Franconia, as late therefore, certainly, as the first half of the 
eighteenth century. They assembled in one or the other of 
the above-named places for no other purpose than to revive 
the feeling of clanship and near connection, to exchange 
experiences and ideas, and to enjoy a few hours in each 
other's society. It survived even in the memory of Sebas- 
tian's son, Emanuel, how that his forefathers had edified 
and delighted each other as to matters musical. First the} 
would sing a chorale, then followed secular and populai 
songs, which, from the contrast with the previous pious 
mood, would often, by their quips and jests, rouse the mirth 
of both singers and hearers to a keen and cynical wit. The 
performance of such songs, be it observed, was part of the 
calling of the town-musicians. A particularly favourite 
practice seems to have been the performance of Quodlibets, 
by which, up to the sixteenth century, were understood 
pieces in several parts in which the voices sang different 
well-known melodies, often sacred and profane at the same 
time, and with the words, and endeavoured to combine them so 
as to form a harmonious whole. 191 The production of a 
really harmonius result must, however, have been far from 
the intentions of the jolly musicians ; they would rather 

190 Der wohlgeplagte (etc.) Cotala, p. 3. It is evident that Mattheson's re- 
flections on the education of musicians' apprentices in the Neueroffnetes 
Orchestre, p. 14, are founded on the descriptions in this work rather than on 
his own observations. 

191 Compare Praetorius, Syntagma musicum, III., 18. B.M. The instances 
there alluded to are given, with analysis, in Hilgenfeldt, Joh. Sebast. Bach's 
Leben,&c. Leipzig, Fr. Hofmeister, 1850. Sup. I. and II. A pleasing account 
of such sports is given in Winterfeld, Zur Geschichte heiliger Tonkunst, II., 
p 281. 


have directed their attention to the diversity of the texts, 
where chance must have ruled and revelled in the wildest 
contrarieties. 192 

Georg Christoph, Christoph Bach's eldest son, was born 
at Erfurt, September 6, i642. 193 At first he was usher in 
a school at Heinrichs, near Suhl, a position which he 
probably attained through the connection with Suhl of his 
father's brother. From thence he moved, in 1668, as cantor, 
to Themar, a little old town in the neighbourhood of 
Meiningen, which at that time belonged to the Prince-Counts 
of Henneberg, but in 1672 was transferred to Gotha, and in 
1680 fell into the possession of Duke Heinrich von Romhild. 
After his death (1710), Meiningen once more took forcible 
possession of it for a time. 194 Thus, in those times, did men 
play fast and loose with towns and human beings. Twenty 
years later Bach was called to fill the same office at Schwein- 
furt. There he died, April 24, 1697, the founder of the 
Franconian branch of the Bachs. 195 That he, too, was a 
composer appears from the circumstance that in Philipp 
Emanuel's collection of music there was a sacred composi- 
tion by him, on the text from the Psalms, " Behold, how 
good and joyful a thing it is, brethren, to dwell together in 
unity," for two tenors, one bass, one violin, three viole di 
gamba, and basso continuo. This composition, which is said 
to have been written in 1689, is at present lost, so it is impos- 
sible to guess what his merits as a composer may have been. 

192 The Quodlibet is a piece composed of all sorts of pleasing songs, even 
though they do not regularly suit and fit each other." F. E. Niedt's Musikal- 
ische Handleitung, Part II., Ed. 2, edited by Mattheson, Hamburg, 1721, 
p. 103. See also Forkel, p. 3, and Dictionary of Music and Musicians, art. 
" Quodlibet." 

193 From data in the genealogy and the register of the Kaufmannskirche, which 
agree. Ferrich, whose differing statements generally deserve credence when they 
refer to his own direct ancestors, here, strangely enough, gives the year as 1641. 

194 From documents in the archives of Meiningen. Bruckner, Landeskunde 
des Herzogthums Meiningen, II., p. 239. 

195 The dates from the Ferrich genealogy. In the report of the Council of 
Erfurt for April 28, 1675, mention is made of the very impoverished condition 
of one Georg Christoph Bach, who must at that time have been in Erfurt. He 
thus can certainly not be identical with the G. C. Bach mentioned in the text, 
but I do not know how to identify him otherwise. 


We will go on to his children. The eldest, Johann Valen- 
tin, was born January 6, i669, 196 whence we may infer that 
his father married when he became Cantor. He was suc- 
ceeded by Johann Christian (lived from March 15, 1679, till 
June 16, 1707), and Joh. Georg (from November n, 1683, till 
March 13, 1713) ; nothing certain is known about these two. 
Valentin became town-musician in Schweinfurt, May i, 

1694, and at the same time, or later, was appointed head 
watchman. In this position he conceived it to be his duty 
to marry, and on September 25, 1694, he wedded Anna Mar- 
garetha Brandt. He died August 12, 1720. Three sons, the 
fruit of his marriage, may be mentioned Joh. Lorenz, the 
compiler of the Ferrich genealogy, born September 10, 

1695, was Organist at Lahm, in Franconia, and died at a 
great age, December 14, 1773. I am acquainted with a pre- 
lude and fugue in D major by him, which shows him to 
have been a skilled and original composer. The second 
son, Joh. Elias, whose meeting with Sebastian Bach I shall 
refer to again later, was born February 12, 1705 ; he studied 
theology, and afterwards became cantor and inspector of 
the Alumneum at Schweinfurt, where he died, November 
30, 1755. The third, finally, Joh. Heinrich, born January 
27, 1711, did not survive his early youth. It is easy to ob- 
serve how, as they became at home on the Franconian terri- 
tory, other Christian names occur, as Valentin, Elias, and 
Lorenz, than those which had been customary among the 
Thuringian Bachs. 197 

After the birth of his first son, Christoph Bach's wife pre- 
sented him next with twins, February 22, 1645, which, two 
days later, were held at the font by Ambrosius Marggraf 
and Christoph Barwald, as godfathers, and were named, 
respectively, Joh. Ambrosius and Joh. Christoph. The 
former was destined to be the father of the great Sebastian. 

196 At three in the afternoon, says the exact register in the Ferrich genealogy. 
That he was afterwards Cantor at Schweinfurt is an error of Philipp Emanuel's. 

197 These statements are founded on data derived from the Ferrich gene- 
alogy, the fragmentary genealogy attached to the pedigree in the possession of 
Fraulein Emmert, of Schweinfurt, and the parish registers of that town. See 
Appendix, B. III. 


They passed their first childhood in Erfurt; when they were 
eight or nine years old Arnstadt became the family residence, 
and there, under their father's guidance, the foundations of 
their musical knowledge and skill were laid. 

When Christoph Bach died, in the prime of manhood, his 
twin sons were scarcely grown up. Nature had not only tied 
them by the closest bond of blood, but had bestowed on them 
a resemblance of both external and mental characteristics 
that was the astonishment of every one, and that seems to 
have made them the object of curiosity and interest even in 
the highest circles. They had the same modes of thought 
and of expression ; they played the same instrument, the 
violin, and had the same way of conceiving and performing 
music. Their outward resemblance is said to have been so 
great that when they were apart their own wives could not 
distinguish their husbands, and their unity of spirit and 
temperament was so intimate that they even suffered from 
the same disorders ; in fact, the younger survived the death 
of the elder but a very short time. Thus the reciprocal 
interdependence which was characteristic of all the Bachs, 
showed itself in its greatest intensity in the relations of 
Sebastian's father to his twin brother; and since we find 
little to tell concerning his own life, we will allow ourselves 
to bring the characteristic peculiarities of the younger to 
bear so far as they can be determined on the person of 
the elder. 

It is probable that after their father's death and the end of 
their apprenticeship, they both travelled as town-musicians' 
assistants, but then their roads separated. Ambrosius settled 
in Erfurt in 1667, and Joh. Christoph received a call, 
February 17, 1671, to be Hofmusicus to Count Ludwig 
Giinther, at Schwarzburg-Arnstadt. It has already been 
observed in another place that this nobleman took an interest 
in church music, which here, as elsewhere, had somewhat 
fallen into decay. A year before this he had caused a special 
hour of practice every Sunday to be arranged for the church 
choir, with the instrumental accompaniment under the direc- 
tion of the Cantor Heindorff, and he had it carefully kept up. 
How needful it was is proved by this, that complaint was 


still made at the school examination, at Easter of the year 
1673, of the bad condition of the singing choir, which con- 
sisted principally of the scholars. Subsequently, on the 
appointment of a new town-cantor, the Count stipulated that 
the choir should consist of at least four persons in each part, 
which, at that time, when single voices were not unfrequently 
thought sufficient, formed a tolerably strong choir. When 
the Count appointed a musical groom of the chambers, it 
was expressly stated in his appointment that he was " at all 
times to be present in the church at the exercitium musicum." 
We read just the same in the deed appointing Joh. Christoph ; 
at the same time he was enjoined not to travel abroad with- 
out the consent of the cantor and the Count's council, and 
" to exercise himself in the graces of violin-playing and 
music-making," and " since he would be needed at Court, 
alone or with others, to show himself ready and willing." 
At the same time the chief directors, the Cantor Heindorff, 
and the town-musician at the time, named Graser, were 
instructed on all occasions of municipal solemnity, where 
music was required, to apply first to Bach, then to the 
watchmen, and then to the assistant-musicians in turn. 
It was necessary to specify these subsidiary duties, for 
Bach, as Hofmusicus, received a salary of only twenty 
and subsequently of thirty gulden, with some payments in 
kind. 198 

As he was now above want, he ought, in the true Bach 
fashion, to have set up house. His brother Ambrosius had 
already set him the example. He seems, indeed, to have 
had some views of this kind; but that they were not at 
once carried out, and the reasons why, give us a deeper 
insight into the nature of this man than it has been possible 
to obtain with regard to any previous member of the family. 
The Consistory of Arnstadt, besides its supervision of all 
matters ecclesiastical and scholastic, had also a certain 

198 From the book of accounts of payments to servants from Michaelmas, 1687, 
to Michaelmas, 1688, in the Ministerial Library at Sondershausen, p. 72: " Hof- 
musicus Joh. Christoff Bach, twenty gulden a year." The salary of thirty 
gulden thus implies an advance. 


spiritual jurisdiction over matters connected with religion 
and morals. On August 19, 1673, there appeared before 
them Anna Margaretha Wiener, widow, and her daughter 
Anna Cunigunda, and, as against them, Joh. Christoph 
Bach ; and the hearing of the two parties brought to light 
certain things which we will reproduce in the characteristic 
way in which they were then and there recorded. 199 

" After Bach had kept company with Anna Cunigunda 
Wienerin, 200 and by common report was said to be betrothed 
to her, both parties appeared before the Consistory, and 
Anna Cunigunda confessed that she had promised to marry 
Bach, and he her. And the mother says that he had 
addressed himself to her, through Hans Lampe, desiring 
her motherly consent, which likewise she had given, and 
they had done no less than give each other rings in pledge 
of marriage, which they still had. She (i.e., the daughter) 
was minded to keep her word, that her conscience might not 
be burdened, although she would force herself on no man; 
and it was now on Bach's conscience and responsibility 
whether he thought he could withdraw from her under 
these circumstances without injuring her. 

" Christoph Bach confessed, indeed, that he had offered 
marriage to Anna Cunigunda Wienerin, but they had 
merely considered the matter provisionally, and he had 
not in any way considered himself bound. Negat pure, 
that he asked the mother's consent through Hans Lampe ; 
this Hans Lampe was father-in-law to Anna Wienerin and 
in the closest relationship to her by marriage. With regard 
to desiring her consent to the completion of the act, he would 
far sooner demand it through some near blood friend of his 
own (Bach's), exempli gratia, Heinrich Bach, than through any 
friend of hers. He had given her a ring and she had 
given him one, but not in pledge of marriage. In specie 
he said she had vexed him about Leuchten's 201 daughter, 

199 In this, and in other similar cases, the simplest translation has been thought 
to be the best. Any attempt at reproducing or imitating the quaint old phrase- 
ology would be futile. 

200 The feminine termination added to her surname. 
801 A citizen of Arnstadt. 


and had declared he had received the ring from her, to 
which he replied, in order that she might see that this 
was not the case, that he would make her a present of 
the ring. 

" Anna Cunigunda abides by what she has said above, and 
in specie that the ring was given in pledge of marriage, so 
that her constancy was made sure. 

" Bach no less abides by what he has said, and denies 
the circumstances alleged by the opposite party; besides, 
Anna Cunigunda had asked for her ring back again, and so 
basketed him. 

" Wienerin : After Bach had withdrawn from her and his 
affection had died out, she had desired to have her ring back, 
on these conditions : she put it to his conscience that if she 
were not good enough for him, and if he only meant to 
make a fool of her, he should return her the ring and answer 
for it in his conscience before God. She would leave it to 
him to decide, and have nothing more to do with him of 
that kind. He, in answer, had sent her word that he had 
no fear of punishment from God on that account. 

" Memorandum : 'Since Bach stands by his statement that 
he had said nothing binding to Anna Cunigunda, although 
various reports had been abroad, it is pressingly put before 
him that he might easily be made to swear to his deposition. 
To the end that he should diligently try himself, he shall be 
allowed time for consideration during eight days from this 
date, when, without further summons, he shall appear 
again and explain himself. Which shall also be declared 
to Anna Cunigunda Wienerin.' " 

The little romance between the two young people was 
soon played out. Indeed, neither of them accused the 
other any further, but the Consistory, when the matter 
had come to its ears, deemed it its part to take further 
cognisance of the affair. Although at the next appointed 
hearing no particular fault on Bach's side was proved, 
still the Consistory, which in its decision may have had 
due regard to the personal impression made by the two 
parties, was in the right not to be immediately convinced by 
Johann Christoph's defence. The clever and accomplished 


young artist probably had not failed to win the affections 
of the citizen's daughter of Arnstadt. He had made 
advances to Anna Wiener with a view to making her his 
companion for life, and in the unconstrained fashion of their 
class he had chatted and talked with her, so that the possi- 
bility of their union in marriage had been touched upon. 
Partly from sincere liking, and partly by inconsiderate con- 
duct, it came to pass that he aroused in the girl a serious 
affection. The feeling that he did not very warmly return it 
led to some jealous teasing about the ring, and he, to meet 
it half-way, gave it to her. I am far from defending such 
light conduct, but I would not judge him by too strict a 
standard. Bach was now tired of the half-serious dallying, 
and left the maiden to the torments of unrequited love. Still 
her declaration before the Consistory does not betray this 
alone, but real womanliness and tender feeling also. Too 
proud to allow him to trifle with her, she had given back the 
promise, made on her side in earnest, and had given up all 
intimacy with him; but as soon as she was questioned on 
the subject she betrayed her real feeling in her repeated 
appeals to his conscience and to God, before whom he 
would have to answer for his conduct, and to whose will she 
submitted her own. 

The spiritual court, whose purpose it was to bring about 
an adjustment, seems on this occasion to have poured oil on 
the fire. Bach did not feel himself pledged to Anna 
Wiener, as was already proved by his defiant answer that he 
had no fear of God's punishment for any breach of faith ; 
and the fact that the matter had now become public, and 
probably the talk of the town, only strengthened his re- 
calcitrancy, and turned his indifference into aversion. What 
further proceedings took place before the Consistory we 
have no report of ; still we can gather this much, that 
their view was that Bach must marry Anna Cunigunda. If 
this had, finally, been the result, it would be easily explained 
by the authority of the Consistory and the custom of the 
time, for mutual inclination was by no means always the 
determining cause and motive of a matrimonial alliance ; it 
was still more frequent then than now to yield to external 



reasons, and to leave the adjustment, even of serious 
differences, to time. That a poor musician, wholly 
dependent as to outward circumstances on the Count's 
Court and Council, should have resisted this demand with 
the utmost decision nay, with much bitterness is a 
remarkable proof of a justifiable independence, which 
allowed of no interference under any circumstances in 
matters of sentiment and feeling. The Counts of Schwarz- 
burg at that time were dependent on the Dukedom of 
Saxony, and Johann Christoph, not meeting with justice in 
Arnstadt, carried his appeal before the Consistory of 
Weimar. This was in 1674, after the affair had already 
lingered on for much more than a year. He here declared, 
with a vehemence which must subsequently have been remem- 
bered against him, that he " hated the Wienerin so that he 
could not bear the sight of her." And in Weimar justice 
was done him. Nothing was then left to the Arnstadt 
Consistory but to effect a reconciliation, for which Bach 
showed himself very ready, and so virtually retracted the 
declaration he had uttered in Weimar. By this time it was 
the end of the year 1675 ; the worrying contest had deprived 
him of his freedom of mind for nearly two years and a half. 
He came out of it triumphant, but all thoughts of love and 
marriage were marred for him for years. While the others 
of the Bach family all married early, many by the time 
they were twenty, he remained unmarried till he was 
in his thirty-fifth year. He then took to wife Martha 
Elisabeth Eisentraut, the daughter of the churchwarden of 
Ohrdruf, about Easter, 1679. 

There is a suspicion to be dispelled, which may, perhaps, 
have arisen from reading the preceding narrative, that it 
may have been in consequence of some indiscreet conduct 
that Bach was required to marry Anna Wiener. It is 
beyond any manner of doubt that their relations were 
strictly pure and moral; indeed, it is perfectly clear from 
an attentive reading of the trial given above. Such con- 
tingencies as might be inferred or imagined were always 
discussed with the greatest openness in the transactions of 
the Consistory, which are our source of information ; and 


in such circumstances the Court of Weimar would certainty' 
not have pronounced in favour of Bach. Moreover, I may 
here add with great satisfaction, that as regards the relations 
of the sexes, the strictest principles prevailed in the Bach 
family, and that in this particular they certainly distin- 
guished themselves as in advance of their time. When, 
among so great a number of marriages and births as I -have 
had occasion to search out and follow up, not a single in- 
stance is to be met with from which an illegal or premature 
connection can be inferred, this is an honourable testimony 
of no small import among men of that class, and in times of 
such general moral confusion and laxity. 

Graser, the town-musician, to whose special consideration 
on occasions of " music-making " Johann Christoph was 
recommended, made life and labour bitter to him; not 
merely damaging him in his earnings, but seeking to hurt 
and annoy him in various spiteful and contentious ways. 
He once went so far as grossly to insult not Joh. Christoph 
only, but the whole Bach family of musicians. This led to 
a collective action on the part of the Bachs of Arnstadt and 
Erfurt ; but nothing definite can be told as to the outcome, 
though they seem to have taken proceedings against Graser. 
The disputes, however, did not cease ; the Government once 
more took Bach into its service, but at last the old Count 
lost patience. He saw plainly that, amid eternal quarrelling, 
music could not prosper, and on January 7, 1681, he 
dismissed all the musicians from their appointments, " on 
account of their idleness and disunion." 202 As ill-luck would 
have it, the Count died shortly after this, and, in consequence 
of the general mourning, all public music was prohibited. 
Thus Joh. Christoph found himself bereft of a livelihood, 
and with his wife and his first-born, a daughter, reduced to 
extreme necessity. It is not without emotion that we read 

802 Documents of March 23, 1680, and January 7, 1681. These and the 
following statements rest on papers in the archives of Sondershausen : " Con- 
cerning Johann Christoph Bach, Hoff-Musicus in Arnstadt, 1671-1696." 
Certain of these and other documents relating to different members of the 
Bach family were published some years since in Q. W. Korner's Urania. 
(Erfurt and Leipzig, 1861.) 

M 2 


that this man, nevertheless, every Sunday sat by the side of 
his venerable uncle, Heinrich Bach, assisting him in the 
church music without the smallest payment ; how, after the 
lapse of a few months of mourning, he craved permission of 
the young Counts now reigning, "to perform some quiet music, 
so as to maintain himself and his family, however meagrely," 
sometimes in Arnstadt, or, if that were forbidden, in the 
remote town of Gehren ; or begged, at the New Year, to be 
allowed to " pipe before the doors," in spite of the mourning. 
The hardest times were presently past, and in the early part 
of 1682 he was reappointed by the young sovereigns " Hof- 
musicus und Stadtpfeifer." 

We may turn from the sadder side of his life and from 
the still incessant litigations over the encroachments on 
his office, and other quarrels with his fellow-musicians, to 
a consideration of the music performed at the Count's Court. 
This will interest us all the more because afterwards 
Sebastian Bach had to fill an office at the same Court. 

After the death of Ludwig Giinther, his dominions fell to 
his two nephews. The younger, Anton Giinther, acquired the 
"Oberherrschaft" 208 with the capital of Arnstadt, where he 
took up his residence in 1683, and remained till his death in 
1716. He invited Adam Drese to be Capellmeister to his Court, 
a man at that time more than sixty years of age. He seems 
to have been born at Weimar, about the middle of December 
1620, and was sent by Duke Wilhelm IV., in whose band he 
was first engaged, for his further education to Marco Sacchi, 
Capellmeister to the King of Poland, at Warsaw; he was 
then appointed Capellmeister to the Court of Weimar. 
Here he presided, in 1658, over a band of sixteen performers, 
and received a salary of 275 gulden, besides some payments 
in kind. After the Duke's death in 1662, and the division of 
his territory, the Duke's fourth son Bernhard took him to 
Jena, which fell to that Prince's share. He not only gave 
him the post of Capellmeister, but in consequence of Drese's 

208 His brother taking the " Unterherrschaft." The Count's dominions lying 
up (oben) in the Thiiringer wald, and below (unten) in the plain, they were 
thus divided between his nephews. 


manifold talents he appointed him his private secretary, and 
magistrate of the town and council. In the year 1667 the 
Prince made some changes in his establishment, and Drese, 
for some unknown reason, was dismissed. A petition 
addressed to Duke Moritz of Sax-Zeitz procured him a 
flattering recommendation to the Landgrave Ludwig of 
Hesse-Darmstadt. 20 * Whether he obtained any appointment 
there is not clear ; a year later he was back again at Jena. 
When Bernhard died, in 1678, Drese probably remained at 
his post, under the regency of the Duchess, and at her 
death (1682), after a short interval, he entered the service of 
the Court of Schwarzburg in 1683. In the course of events 
he had not improved his position ; in 1696 he was in receipt 
of an annual payment of only 106 gulden. He died at 
the advanced age of eighty years and two months, February 
15, 1701. 

Drese's musical occupations must have been various and 
extensive. His principal instrument was the viol di gamba, 
as it was that of his friend and fellow-artist, Georg Neu- 
mark, with whom he lived and worked in Weimar. As a 
composer he brought out, in 1672, a collection of allemandes, 
courantes, sarabands, and the like, and he seems to have 
distinguished himself besides by writing various instrumen- 
tal sonatas, church-pieces, and theatrical compositions, and 
especially by his treatment of recitative. 205 Nothing of all 
these works, printed and unprinted, has as yet been re- 
covered, but fourteen songs by him have been preserved in 
Neumark's Fortgepflanzte musikalisch-poetische Lustwald 
(Jena, 1657) ; and an Introduction to the Art of Com- 
position, by him, existed and was in use about the year 
i68o. 206 Of his sacred melodies, which were composed 
partly to the hymns written by Biittner, a member of the 
Consistory at Arnstadt, and partly to his own verses, that 

804 The papers are in the archives at Dresden. 

205 \Valther, Lexicon, p. 217. Next to Gasp. Wetzel's Analecta hymnica, I., 
sect. 4, p. 28, this is the principal source of information as to Drese. 

206 Mattheson, Ehrenpforte, p. 341. This supplements Gerber's quotation, 
N. L-, I, col. 930, 


beginning "Seelenbrautigam" "Jesus, bridegroom of my 
soul," with its interesting setting but somewhat undignified 
feeling, has remained in use. These poetical and musical 
productions were closely connected with the change of 
opinions which took place in Drese in his old age. He had 
been a light-hearted and jolly musician, who loved to play the 
"lustige Person" or clown (Mr. Merriman) in the theatrical 
performances in which he bore a part. After the death of 
Duke Bernhard he first became acquainted with Spener's 
writings, and, principally by their influence, became a 
devoted adherent of pietism. In Arnstadt, besides fulfilling 
his official duties, he established meetings of his fellow- 
believers at his own house, in imitation of Spener's example; 
and in 1690 he published a work at Jena, On the Unerring 
Evidences of the True, Living, and Bliss-bestowing Faith. 207 
Spener himself wrote a preface to it, in which he addresses 
to Drese the highest praise of his earnest purpose and deep 
feeling. 208 But Arnstadt did not afford a favourable soil for 
pietism ; at any rate the two Olearius, father and son, who 
enjoyed the highest esteem there, at first together, were 
thoroughly hostile to it. It was undoubtedly by their 
influence that, in 1694, on Cantate Sunday and on 
Ascension Day, a public warning was preached from every 
pulpit against the erroneous doctrines of the pietists, and 
it was not without satisfaction that Joh. Christoph Olearius 
the younger could write : " Although among others certain 
Quakerish-minded pietists had hitherto both secretly and 
openly striven to disturb religious peace, still God had 
hindered them by the Christian authorities." 209 He sub- 
sequently characterised Drese as a crafty and restless man, 
full of fanatical whims, and whose house was the " harbour 
and refuge of all the sleek and subtle pietists"; he objected to 
include him among the writers of pure evangelical hymns, 
and expressed his delight " that he and his race have 

307 Unbetriigliche Priifung des wahren, lebendigen und seligmachenden 

aos Winterfeld, Ev. Kirch., II., 603. 
209 Joh, Christ. Olearii Hist, Arnstadiensis. Jena, Arnstadt, 1701, p. 43. 


altogether died out of Arnstadt, and that all his doings 
have perished with him." We have no means of deciding 
whose judgment of Drese is the more correct, but in general 
we cannot help feeling inclined to take the side of the 
pietists as against that haughty and overbearing orthodoxy. 

It is clear that, under these circumstances, Drese's position 
in Arnstadt was not absolutely free from drawbacks, and, 
besides this, he frequently found himself in great necessity 
through no fault of his own. How little conscience was 
exercised in the payment of his salary may be gathered from 
a letter, among others, addressed by Drese to the Privy 
Council of Arnstadt, on April 19, 1691 : " I would, besides, 
briefly recall that before Michaelmas of last year I was put 
off till St. Lucy's (December 13) to draw two quarters (of 
salary), so that the arrears might not grow too high. At 
the said date of St. Lucy, I was put off till the Holy Festi- 
vals (at Christmas), and, after these, till Reminiscere 
(February 22). These I waited with patience ; but when I 
then again presented myself, I was further put off till Passion 
Week, and when I presented myself, as became me, I was 
informed there would be no money then. When I should 
be put off to, after so many postponements, I knew not." 
We must here not omit to notice the facility of expression, 
and a touch of individual colouring, in this and other papers 
written by Drese, 210 which have a most pleasing effect when 
compared with the dead formality of most of the documents 
of that time; and which, even in this unimportant manifesta- 
tion of his mind, proves the freshness and vigour which 
animated pietism in spite of many perversities. Wilhelm 
Friedrich Drese, a son of the old Capellmeister, worked with 
him gratuitously in the Count's band for four years after his 
appointment. 211 He then filled some musical post to a Baron 
von Meussbach in Triptis, near Weimar, and subsequently 
endeavoured to get a place in the service of the Schwarzburgs. 
He cannot have remained in it long. Towards the end of the 

810 All preserved in the archives of Sondershausen. 

*" He must previously have been Hofmusicus at Weimar, according to docu- 
ments preserved there. 


century the band was temporarily dispersed, 212 and Adam 
Drese, it is to be hoped, placed in circumstances of befitting 
ease. After his death, his wife having already died in 1698, 
the efforts of the pietists soon died out, and when, a few years 
later, Sebastian Bach came to Arnstadt as organist, hardly a 
trace of them was to be found. At any rate, Adam Drese 
himself cannot possibly have exerted any personal influence 
over him, as it has been thought necessary to suppose, since 
he was no longer living ; au and it will presently be abun- 
dantly shown that Sebastian Bach's attitude towards pietism 
was quite a different one from what has commonly been 

Count Anton Giinther did much for music, and not the 
smallest part was at the instigation of his wife, Augusta 
Dorothea, who was accustomed to the eager artistic life and 
taste of her father's Court Duke Anton Ulrich von Braun- 
schweig- Wolfenbiittel. Besides calling a famous master to 
be at the head of his band, he caused several gifted youths 
to be educated and sent to travel at his cost, and he brought 
the band itself to very high perfection as compared with the 
smallness of his other circumstances. It is true that most 
of the musicians fulfilled other offices or services, but in their 
salaries their musical qualifications must always have been 
taken into consideration. One of the lists of the Court 
musicians includes the Organist and Cantor of Gehren, the 
Cantor of Breitenbach, and a bassoon-player from Sonders- 
hausen. It happened, too, on special occasions that all 
the musical forces of the little territory were concentrated, 
and the sober figure of Michael Bach may often have 
made its way on foot from Gehren to the castle of Arnstadt, 
to assist at some exceptionally grand Court concert. 214 

a> On July 12, 1698, Peter Wenigk, of Gotha, petitions for an appointment, 
in case the Count should " be graciously minded at the dedication of the new 
chapel in the castle (1700) to establish a small Capell-Music." 

sis Winterfeld, Ev. Kirch., III., p. 276, from whom it has been copied by 

214 It is hardly possible now to form an adequate idea of what was expected of 
the German musicians of that time, when Italian singers, male and female, were 
conveyed in litters to each performance at the Prince's courts. Job. Philipp 

Even without this, a list of the members of the band is 
miscellaneous enough. The following is the catalogue of 
the instrumentalists about the year 1690: Herr Drese, 
senior, viol di gamba ; Wentzing, groom of the chambers, 
violin ; Gleitsmann, groom of the chambers, lute, violin, 
and viol di gamba ; Heindorff, actuary, violin ; Clerk of 
the granary, clavier and violin ; Clerk of the kitchen, clavier ; 
Herr Drese, junior, viol di gamba ; Heindorff, town-cantor, 
violin ; one fagottist, five trumpeters ; Jager, trumpeter, 
violin; two oboists, who can also play the violin. Bach and 
his folks four persons. These altogether made twenty-one 
players, enough for the perfect performance of any instru- 
mental sonata. Another list is even more magnificent, 
giving an account of the vocal forces : it shall be given in 
its original form. For some inscrutable reason Drese, the 
Capellmeister, is not named. 

Singers. Instrumentalists. 

Discant : Hans Dietrich Sturm. Violin : [Joh.] Christoph Bach. 

Alto: Hans Erhardt Braun. Violin: Christoph Jager. 

Tenor: i. Clerk of the Chambers. Violin: The Actuary. 

Tenor: 2. Clerk of the Granary. Violin: Wentzing. 

Tenor: 3. Hans Heinrich Longolius. Alto Viola: ^ _ 

Bass : I. Clerk of the Works Tenor Viola : Bach ' 8 AsS1Stant8 and 

Bass: a. The Cantor. Bass Viola: J Apprentices. 

Contrabasso : Clerk of the Kitchen. 

Organ : Heinrich Bach. 

Besides Trumpeters, by a gracious special 
order these have hitherto been admitted to 
belong to this music : 

For the Capella or for Complimento M> 
out of the School here : 

Jager's Son : Discant. 

Sauerbrey: Alto. 

Miiller : Tenor. 

Schmidt : Bass. 

Weichardt, a member of the ducal band at Weimar, at the time ol Sebastian 
Bach, was a student of law at Jena, and every Sunday he was obliged to make 
his way to Weimar, to perform in church, and back again. 
I.e., for church or banquet music. 


Of these persons the following especially may be 
for instrumental music : 



The Actuary, 


The Clerk of the Chambers, 

The Clerk of the Granary, 

Trumpeter Forster, 

V Violins. 

Trumpeter Herthum, 
The Cantor, 
Hans Erhardt Braun, 
Hans Heinrich Longolius, 
Bach's Assistant, 

The Trumpeter's Apprentice, \ 

Hans Dietrich Sturm, L Alto Violas. 

M tiller, from the School, j 

Schmidt, from the School, \ 

Sauerbrey, from the School, I Tenor Violas. 

Bach's Apprentice, J 

The Clerk of the Kitchen, \ 

Bach's Assistant, [ Contrabasso and two Bass Viols. 

Bach's Apprentice, / 

An exact comparison of the two lists shows that the second 
is the earlier, since Heinrich Bach is named in it, and by 
the year 1690 he was no longer capable of service. But we 
are obliged to attribute the former list to this date by rinding 
the name of Gleitsmann as groom of the chambers ; he en- 
tered the Count's service at about that time. The second, 
again, can hardly have been drawn up before 1683, or we 
should have found in it Giinther Bach, Heinrich's youngest 
son. From this point of view we further detect, from our 
comparison, that the body of instruments had become richer 
and more varied under Drese's direction. The stringed in- 
struments have been strengthened by the viol di gamba, 
besides the lute, the oboes, and the fagotto. And the 
circumstance that, in the second list of instruments, the 
cembalist is wanting, justifies the conclusion that the instru- 
mental music at the Court at that time was confined to 
simple jingling melodies and dance-music, such as were 
quite in place before and during banquets, and also that the 
instrumental concerto was introduced by Drese ; for it could 


not have been performed without the accompaniment of the 
harpsichord. The clerk of the kitchen, mentioned as playing 
the clavier, was none other than Christoph Herthum, Hem- 
rich Bach's son-in-law, and the same who in the older list 
is named as bass-player. Joh. Christoph Bach finally ap- 
pears with four of his assistants in the first catalogue, but 
in the second with only three : if any conclusion may be 
drawn from this, it would seem that he fared better at first 
in his new position under Count Anton Giinther than he did 
later. But we know from another source that, after the hard 
times at the beginning of this Count's rule, he never suffered 
from any prolonged necessity. On the contrary, he was 
able, at his death, to leave a small fortune to his family. 

He, exactly like his father, only attained the age of 
forty-eight years, dying August 25, 1693. His widow and 
five children survived him. His widow obtained permission 
to retain her husband's office, and continue to have his 
duties performed by the assistants ; but she proved herself 
unequal to cope with these rough and refractory men as 
regarded their duties, and, at the end of three years, she 
herself begged to withdraw from the position. The eldest 
son, Joh. Ernst, born August 8, 1683, had a by no means 
contemptible talent for music, and for its further cultivation 
he resided for six months in Hamburg, at his own expense, 
and afterwards spent some time in Frankfort. He then, 
undoubtedly, returned to Arnstadt to assist his mother and 
family by exercising his skill. Unhappily, he was not at 
first successful in this ; and since, in the meantime, all his 
father's little property had been gradually exhausted by the 
survivors, and at last a long spell of sickness fell upon the 
household, Christoph Bach's family were soon in very 
straitened circumstances. No other branch of the Bach 
family who might have given them some assistance was 
then living in the town, excepting the youthful Sebastian, who 
held his first post as organist there from 1703 to 1707. But 
even he, as we shall see, did what lay in his power to 
assist his impoverished cousins. When he was called to 
Miihlhausen, Joh. Ernst was so fortunate, after a little 
exertion, as to become his successor. This certainly did not 


take place till he had passed an examination under the capell- 
meister at the time, Paul Gleitsmann, in which Bach won 
the precedence over the other candidates by the perform- 
ance of a prelude on the full organ, and of a chorale with 
extemporised accompaniments, and by his skilled and correct 
working out of the figured-bass to a piece of church music 
set before him at the moment. But that his proficiency at 
four-and-twenty was not to be compared with that which 
Sebastian had already attained at the age of eighteen is 
evident from the considerable reduction in his salary ; he 
received the very modest pay of forty gulden and a measure 
and a half of corn, and it was also thought desirable to let 
a half-year more elapse before he was definitively installed. 
Since he remained for twenty years in this post, which could 
barely have sufficed to maintain him, it is not astonishing that 
he should not have answered the hopes which Gleitsmann 
believed he might form of him. At any rate, in 1728, when 
he finally was appointed to the Church of the Holy 
Virgin, with a salary of seventy-seven gulden, he had to be 
warned by the Consistory " to exercise himself still better in 
his art, to improve himself as much as possible by due 
reflection, not to remain always at one level, but to cul- 
tivate his skill by diligent correspondence with one and 
another among experienced musicians." However, a weak- 
ness of the eyes impeded his studies. He married for 
the first time, October 22, 1720, a daughter of the minister 
of Wandersleben, named Wirth ; his second wife, whom he 
married in 1725, was Magdalene Christiane Schober; she 
was the daughter of a law-clerk at Gotha. She, with three 
infant children, survived her husband, on whom the sun 
of good fortune had so seldom shone. 

Of the three brothers of Joh. Ernst, the youngest, Joh. 
Andreas, died within a year of his father, aged three; of 
another, Joh. Heinrich, nothing is known, but that he was 
born December 3, 1686. Joh. Christoph, however, is more 
frequently mentioned. He was born September 13, 1689, but 
the incidents of his life are as little known to us as the date 
of his death. According to the genealogy, he was a dealer 
at Blankenhain, On the other hand, a certain Joh. Christoph 


Bach, born at Arnstadt, applied in the year 1726 for the 
place of organist at the girl's school at the village of Keula, 
in Schwarzburg, where he had for twelve years been in the 
service of the chief magistrate (Oberamtmann) Struve, and had 
sometimes officiated in playing the organ. As this personage 
can hardly be any other than the son of Sebastian's uncle, 
we must either regard the statement in the genealogy as 
incorrect, or assume that he became a dealer afterwards. 
This, indeed, is not impossible. He seems to have died in 
I 73 6. 216 

Here we lose the line of the descendants of Johann 
Christoph Bach, the town-musician ; but the case is quite 
the reverse with those of his twin-brother, Ambrosius. 
While we do not even know the names of Joh. Christoph's 
grandsons, the genius of the family continued to blossom 
even in the children's children of Ambrosius, and though 
none of them could compare even remotely with the sole and 
only One, still the spirit of art stirred and lived in them all. 
The genius of the race, after having diffused itself more or 
less widely through whole generations, now culminated and 
exhausted itself in the family of Ambrosius Bach. 

We left Ambrosius Bach at the time when he entered the 
town-council of Erfurt, April 12, 1667, and it was previously 
stated (p. 21) that he was the successor in it of his cousin Joh. 
Christian, the eldest son of Johann Bach, who at that time 
moved from Erfurt to Eisenach. He played the alto viola, 
as we learn on this occasion. We may certainly extend this 
so as to include violin-playing in general; and it is worthy of 
remark, as bearing on Sebastian's musical development, 
that it was principally violin-playing that he must have 
heard in his father's house. Only one year after his appoint- 
ment Ambrosius was married, April 8, 1668. It was in 
this same year that the outlay at weddings, which had 
degenerated into extravagance and excess, was restricted 

816 According to the pedigree given by Korabinsky. Hilgenfeldt gives the 
date as 1730, no doubt from an oversight in using Korabinsky's work. The 
daughter, only once mentioned, of Ambrosius Bach's twin-brother, was Barbara 
Katharina, born May 14, 1680, 


within proper limits by special legislation for the regulation 
of weddings by the Elector of Mainz. 217 Bach's bride was 
Elisabeth Lammerhirt, born February 24, 1644, the daughter 
of Valentin Lammerhirt, a furrier, living under the sign of 
"The Three Roses," in the Junkersande (now No. i,285). 218 
The Lammerhirt family were not strangers to the Bachs. 
Johann Bach had already chosen his second wife, Hedwig, 
from among them a relation of Elisabeth's, but of course 
much older. From this marriage issued six sons and two 
daughters. 219 The first child must have been born between 
1668 and 1671, and have died soon after ; then followed the 
eldest of those that survived their parents, Job. Christoph, 
born June 16, 1671. 22 In October of the same year 
Ambrosius moved to Eisenach, leaving his place among 
the town-musicians, as has been told, to his cousin Aegidius 
Bach. Besides the maintenance of his family he now 
undertook the support and care of his hapless idiot sister, 
who, however, was released by death from her miserable 
existence in 1679. It is a genuine trait of the Bach character 
that the brothers wished to have the funeral sermon preached 
on this occasion printed as a memorial, as may be seen in 
the dedication, addressed to the three brothers and Job. 
Christoph (their cousin, Heinrich's son). The preacher, 
taking for his text Luke, xii. 48, "For unto whom much 
is given, of him much shall be required," pointed out the 
strange distribution of human wealth and talents, saying : 
" Our sister, who now rests in the Lord, was a simple 
creature, not knowing her right hand from her left ; she was 
like a child. If, on the contrary, we look at her brothers we 
find that they are gifted with a good understanding, with art 
and skill which make them respected and listened to in the 
churches, schools, and in all the township, so that through 
them the Master's work is praised." This opinion deserves 
our attention, because it contains the only contemporary 

7ir Comp. Hartung, Hauser-Chronik der Stadt Erfurt, p. 303. 
818 See Appendix A, No. 8. 

219 According to the genealogy. 

220 According to Bruckner, Kirchen- und Schulen Staat. Part III., sect. 10, 
p. 95- 


judgment now extant of Ambrosius Bach. 221 He never again 
quitted Eisenach. In the spring of 1684 he was indeed 
invited to rejoin the Erfurt company of musicians, and 
showed some desire to obey the call. But Duke Johann 
Georg would not permit him to go, thus proving how highly 
he esteemed him. 222 The highly respectable position which 
he held was, indeed, the reason why other members not only 
of his own family, but of his wife's, came to settle in 
Eisenach. The children born there came in the following 
order : Joh. Balthasar, born March 4, 1673, died in the 
beginning of April, 1691; Joh. Jonas, born January 3, 1675 ; 
Maria Salome, born May 27, 1677 ; Johanna Juditha, born 
January 26, 1680 (she received her first name from Johann 
Pachelbel, at that time Organist to the Predigerkirche in 
Erfurt) ; Joh. Jakob, born February 9, 1682. None of 
these lived to grow up but Joh. Jakob and Maria Salome, 
who married one Wiegand, probably of Erfurt, and as early 
as 1707 she was left the sole survivor of the sisters. The 
man to whose memory this work is dedicated closed the 
list, the youngest of Ambrosius Bach's children. We shall 
enter on a fresh section with the date of his birth. 

A comprehensive retrospect over the history of his fore- 
fathers and relations, which is here closed, will suffice to show 
that from no artist have we a better right to expect, at the very 
threshold of his career, that he should embody the whole 
essence of the German nation, than from Sebastian Bach. 
His ancestors had already lived and laboured for centuries in 
that province of Germany which was his cradle ; they had 
grown to be one with their native land in a way which 
results more from tilling and sowing it than from any other 
form of labour. Thus, deriving their sustenance from the 
soil, the race had spread abroad as a mighty oak spreads 
its branches, on all sides, and their common origin 

321 The funeral sermon of M. Valentin Schron on Dorothea Maria Bach, 
born April 10, 1653, printed at Eisenach, 1679, is to be found in the Ducal 
Library at Gotha. Another of Christoph Bach's daughters, Barbara Maria, is 
also mentioned, born April 30, 1651. 

282 From documents in the parish register of Eisenach, first quoted by Ritter 
in a revised edition of his works on Bach, now coming out in parts, see p. 36, 


was never forgotten. For generations they had at once 
fostered and represented those forms of music which 
appeal most nearly to the transcendental and metaphysical 
spirit of the German people, and which were destined to be 
brought by them to the highest perfection namely, instru- 
mental music and Protestant sacred music, which chiefly 
grew out of instrumental music. A constantly increasing 
sum of musical experience and practice had been handed 
down from generation to generation, and had at last 
become an innate portion of the Bach nature ; and thus a 
suitable soil had been prepared for the favourable develop- 
ment of an unapproachable genius. And that modest piety 
and decent morality which we Germans may specially claim 
as having been at all times the distinguishing virtues of our 
nation though, indeed, they are the necessary conditions of 
all healthy and vigorous growth we find faithfully cherished 
from the first in the Bach family. Indeed, this instinct seems 
to have constituted a mainstay of that strong family con- 
nection which was always closest precisely at those periods 
when society was most demoralised. During the second 
half of the seventeenth century, when the rapid growth of 
the numerous musical bands of the Courts of Germany must 
have tempted them to more brilliant and profitable occupa- 
tions, they appear as simple organists and cantors in the 
service of the Church, or as fostering the national town 
music-guilds among the people, coming only into incidental 
contact with Courts. Piety was at that time a precious 
possession, the Church and the priesthood cherished the 
highest culture. Hence that feature which is so peculiar 
to the German character, which was of such conspicuous im- 
portance in the time following the war an ideal standard 
of life and of its duties, and, consequently, an elevated con- 
ception of the nature and ideal import of all Art could the 
more easily be developed among them. 

There can be no greater contrast than that of German 
to Italian art at that period. On the one side, with 
great qualities, brilliant rather than deeply rooted, what 
arrogance, vanity, avarice, and immorality ! On the other 
a modest and unself-seeking diligence, working in a narrow 


circle ; a life often spent in a struggle against want, but in 
faithful devotion to duty ; and a family feeling which resisted 
all the floods of the outer world. And with these we find a 
deeply cherished growth and development of the sublimest 
forms of art, at first merely dreamed of, veiled as it were in 
the mists of poetic fancy, modelled with an experimental 
touch; but then seen and grasped in all their meaning, 
and brought to life with a warmth and fervency which to 
this day have lost nothing of their value. Beyond a doubt, 
such a composer as Johann Christoph Bach had a perfect 
right to set his exquisite motetts by the side of the most 
brilliant productions of the masters of Italian art, if it ever 
could have occurred to him to assert himself in any way ; 
but art was all he cared for, and to serve art was his only 
pride. The character of the Thuringian land, to which the 
Bachs clung so tenaciously, also exerted an influence over 
them in many ways. The loneliness of its woods and 
valleys which still, even in these overwhelming times of 
ours, here and there, arouses a delightful feeling, as though 
the motley world had been left outside the mountains that 
hedge it in whose charms could keep its hold even on 
the great soul of Goethe for more than fifty years that 
spirit of solitude soared over the country with wider and 
mightier wings a century earlier. It narrowed the outlook 
and deepened the sources of inward life, the spring from 
which music, above all, derives its vitality. More particularly 
it tinged the peculiar religious spirit which speaks to us in 
the works of Christoph and Sebastian Bach. Beethoven's 
" Pastoral Symphony," in which Nature appears as a grand 
temple, and Sebastian Bach's organ preludes and fugues, 
through which we hear a rush as of the elements through 
the crowns of mighty oaks, both flow from the same fount 
of feeling. 

It is scarcely possible to name any other artist the roots 
of whose being can be traced back for two hundred years. A 
strong stamp of nationality no doubt necessarily involves a 
certain one-sidedness ; and in matters of art it has always 
been a weakness of the Germans not often successfully 
overcome that they subordinate perfection of form to 



the ideal inspiration, while it is only the complete balance 
of the two factors that can result in a perfect work of art. 
But there was a safeguard, stronger than any other could 
have been, against the peril which yawns for every com- 
poser who is devoted to instrumental music, of losing him- 
self in that bottomless and introspective subjectivity which 
leads at last to absolute artistic and aesthetic demoralisation. 
And that was the old tradition of the Bachs centuries old, 
nobly formed, and deeply rooted which held conquered 
acquisition as sacred; this availed to preserve the man in 
whom the stupendous flood and torrent of his power would 
otherwise have been sufficient to overwhelm all the forms 
already extant, and to have left a chaos where, as it is, 
works of fabulous beauty rise before us. Thus the good 
genius of his race not only raised him, but protected him 

The student who desires to appreciate the depth of our 
national being, and to do justice to the history of culture at 
the beginning of the eighteenth century, must give due con- 
sideration to the advent of Sebastian Bach, who, when all 
around was dead and void, appeared unhoped for, and as if 
called up by a magic word as a water-lily is thrown up on 
the dull and formless surface of a pool, a glorious evidence 
of the imperishable vitality hidden in the womb of nature 
and of time. Sebastian Bach appeared at the close of a 
period of deep dejection for the German people; the first 
promise and sufficient pledge of a new spring-time, moral 
and intellectual. 


1685 TO 1707. 

N 2 




1685 TO 1707. 


1685 TO 1703. 

T OHANN SEBASTIAN BACH was born in all probability 
on March 21, 1685, but the only direct evidence we have 
is the fact that March 23 was the day of his baptism. 
His godfathers were Sebastian Nagel, a musician of Gotha, 
and Johann Georg Koch, a forester of Eisenach. 1 For the 
first nine years of his life the boy enjoyed the happiness of 
his mother's care and protection, but on May 3, 1694, 
Ambrosius Bach followed his wife's body to the grave. Nor 
need we attribute to indifference to his dead wife the fact 
that he married again scarcely seven months later (Novem- 
ber 27), Dame Barbara Margaretha Bartholomai, the widow 
of a deacon of Arnstadt. Married life was almost indispen- 
sable to the strong and healthy family feeling of the Bachs, 
and their vigorous instincts soon turned from the dead to the 
living; and a woman's presence and orderly superintendence 
must have seemed doubly desirable in a house full of young 
children. But Ambrosius was not destined to rejoice long 

1 Parish register of Eisenach. It may here be mentioned that the Gregorian 
Calendar, or New Style, was not used in Evangelical Germany till 1701, and that 
all the dates occurring before this era must be carried on ten days to make them 
coincide with the modern reckoning. It would, therefore, be accurate to fix the 
day of Sebastian Bach's birth as March 31. According to a tradition preserved 
in a lateral branch of the family, the house in the Frauenplan A 303, at 
Eisenach, is that where he was born, and a memorial tablet was not long 
since placed there by the city authorities. 


in his newly established household, for he died two months 
afterwards, and was buried January 31, 1695. The family 

1 was now broken up. Johann Jakob Bach apprenticed him- 
self to his father's successor in the office of town-musician; 2 
of the other brothers, Johann Balthasar was already dead, as 
can be pioved, and so also, probably, was Johann Jonas. 
Johann Christoph had already for some years earned his own 
bread, and it was to him that the care and education of 
Johann Sebastian, then hardly ten years old, were confided, 
and the boy never again spent any long time in his native town. 
So far as we may suppose at this distance of time, this very 
early period of his life was wholly given up to arousing and 
cultivating the dormant or perhaps already active powers 
of his mind. 

So far as we can judge from the few details and indications 
we have concerning his own life, and from the character of 
the twin-brother who so much resembled him, together with 
the fundamental features of the Bach nature, his father had 
been a man of moral worth, conscientious and skilled in his 
art, at the same time of independent views and of good report 
among his fellow-citizens. That he was highly esteemed by 
his family is proved by the fact that a large portrait in oil was 
painted of him, and this also leads us to infer that he lived in 
easy circumstances. 8 In this portrait, which represents him 
as of about forty years of age, we see a strongly marked coun- 
tenance with the same nose and chin that we find again in his 
son. It is still more characteristic, and an unusual thing at 
that period, that we have here no civic portrait with a curled 
wig and smug solemnity of face. A frank-looking man gazes 
out from the canvas in a careless everyday garb ; the shirt, 
which shows over the bosom, is loosely held together at the 
throat by a riband, natural brown hair hangs round the head, 
and a moustache even ornaments the face. Any one who can 
estimate how much the painting of a picture in oils implies 
for a man of that rank, will be able to draw the right con- 

8 According to the genealogy. 

8 This portrait was afterwards in the possession of Philipp Emanuel Bach, 
and is now in the Royal Library at Berlin. 


elusions from this complete emancipation from all that, at 
that period, was held to be correct and suitable. 

Ambrosius must have noticed his son's great musical 
gifts at an early age, and have cultivated them, in the first 
instance, in violin-playing, as his own skill would naturally 
lead him to do ; so that the love for this instrument which 
Sebastian manifested so constantly must have had its 
root in the impressions of his earliest infancy. He must 
also have found an object of admiration in Joh. Christoph 
Bach, the greatest musician which the Bach family had up 
to this time produced, with his extraordinary skill on the 
organ and general musical talents ; and he, no doubt, also 
derived from him much incitement, which for a short period 
bore outward results in the form of imitative compositions. 

Indeed, Eisenach was already generally known for the 
musical taste and tendencies that were predominant there. 
So early as in the fifteenth century poor scholars marched 
through the town three times a week, singing hymns and 
asking alms. About the year 1600 the perambulating 
chorus for part-singing was established by Jeremias Wein- 
rich, the master of the school of Eisenach, and soon became 
the pride and delight of the city and the neighbourhood. 
Consisting originally of only four scholars, it soon increased 
to forty and more, and this was the number even about the 
year 1700, at which period we have information concerning it. 4 
As we know that Sebastian subsequently distinguished him- 
self as a fine soprano, we may very well assume that, at any 
rate towards the later period of his residence at Eisenach, 
he took part in the performances of the scholars' choir, and 
marched through the streets singing as he went just as 
Luther had done in the same town two hundred years 
before. Ambrosius Bach had sent his eldest son in his 
early youth to Erfurt, in 1686, where for three years he 

4 Christiani Francisci Paullini Annales Isenacenses. Francofurti ad Moe- 
num. Anno M.DC.XCVIIL, p. 237. Somewhat further back he says: 
" Claruit semper urbs nostra Musica. Et quid est Isenacum x aT ' avayp. quam 
en musica: vel : Isenacum, canimus." ("Our town was always celebrated for 
music And what is the anagram of Isenacum the Latinised form of Eisenach 
but en musica lo ! music, or canimus we sing ? ") 


enjoyed the instruction of their friend Johann Pachelbel. 
In the last year of his apprenticeship he took the post of 
Organist in the Church of St. Thomas there ; this, however, 
did not satisfy even the most modest demands, either as to 
the organ or as to salary, and he soon gave it up. Joh, 
Christoph now turned to Arnstadt, where for a time he per- 
formed the duties of the venerable Heinrich Bach, and 
relieved the cares of his godfather Herthum with respect to 
his old father-in-law. Since the twin-brother of Ambrosius 
Bach whose name was also Joh. Christoph then living in 
Arnstadt, had married a daughter of Eisentraut, the parish- 
clerk of Ohrdruf, we can understand why it should be in this 
town that Joh. Christoph the younger, in 1690, sought and 
obtained employment. He was appointed organist of the 
principal church of the town. In the sixteenth century, 
and to the beginning of the seventeenth, other persons of 
the name of Bach had already settled in this place; still the 
scanty records of their existence contained in the parish 
register do not allow us to hazard a guess as to their con- 
nection with the other branches of the family that had 
flourished elsewhere; and after this time, until the arrival 
of Joh. Christoph the younger, the name seems to have 
disappeared there. He, no doubt by reason of his youth, 
was installed with the small salary of forty-five gulden a 
year and a few payments in kind. He certainly ere long 
asked for an addition, but though it was refused he still 
thought his position allowed of his getting married in 
October, 1694, to the maiden Dorothea von Hof. This 
newly established home made it possible for him to receive 
the young Sebastian on the death of his father, which 
occurred soon after. He must have been his first teacher 
in clavier-playing, and for this reason it would be highly 
interesting if we could give an approximate sketch of his 
own works and labours. But, unfortunately, the means for 
doing so are wholly wanting. We are disposed to a 
favourable judgment of them by the circumstance that he 
was Pachelbel's pupil during three years. An invitation 
to go to Gotha, in 1696 which he refused in consequence 
of an increase of pay leads us to infer, though not with 


any certainty, that his skill was known beyond his own 
town ; or it may be that Pachelbel, who had quitted Gotha 
in 1695, had recommended him there ; and, from his having 
made a collection of works by the most famous writers 
for the organ of that period, we may gather that he strove 
to reach the highest level of his time. Finally, his sons, 
who all became cantors and organists in Ohrdruf and 
the neighbourhood, may be mentioned in evidence of the 
essentially musical nature of their father. 5 But all the other 
information we have concerning him has little or nothing to 
do with music. It was customary then, as it is now, to 
employ the organists and cantors as elementary instructors 
in the schools. Johann Christoph at first did not choose to 
fulfil this double service, which had been performed by his 
predecessor Paul Beck, but he accommodated himself to it 
in the year 1700 for the sake of the larger income, which now 
amounted to ninety-seven gulden, with six measures and a 
half of corn, six cords of wood, and four loads of brushwood. 
But he seems to have been ill adapted to be an instructor 
of youth, and he bore the burden he had taken up with more 
and more difficulty as the support of his family increased the 
need for it ; his health began to fail, and he was obliged to own 
that he was losing his enjoyment and power in the exercise of 
his proper vocation of organist. He died February 22, 1721, 
and was succeeded as organist by his second son, while the 
instruction of the fifth class was given over to a stranger. 6 

5 These sons, or such of them as grew up, were Tobias Friedrich, born 1695, 
Cantor at Uttstadt from 1721 ; Joh. Bernhard, 1700, Organist at Ohrdruf; 
Joh. Christoph, 1702, Cantor at Ohrdruf; Joh. Heinrich, 1707, Cantor at 
Oehringen ; Joh. Andreas, 1713, Organist at Ohrdruf after 1744. Descendants 
of the third son are still living there. 

6 Melchior Kromayer, superintendent at Ohrdruf, began in the year 1685 to 
keep a book for entering an account of the life and the salary paid to every 
priest, teacher, and church official in the town and neighbourhood. This book, 
which contains, among others, autograph biographies of Joh. Christoph 
Bach and his sons, Tobias Friedrich, Joh. Bernhard, Joh. Christoph, and 
Joh. Andreas, was recently found in Ohrdruf, by Herr Staudigel, the town- 
clerk, and in the politest way put at my disposal. Bruckner (Kirchen und 
Schulenstaat, Part III., pp. 95, 96, &c.) also made use of it, but not without 
falling into some errors. I am indebted for information from other sources to 
the kindness of Dr. Schulze, Superintendent at Ohrdruf. 


An anecdote attaches to the volume of organ music just 
mentioned, which is significant as bearing on the instinct for 
learning of Sebastian Bach. The pieces which his elder 
brother put before him were quickly mastered and exhausted, 
as to their technical and theoretical difficulty ; he demanded 
more difficult tasks and loftier flights. Still, pride of 
seniority made Joh. Christoph withhold this collection from 
the boy, who every day could see the object of his longing 
lying within the wire lattice of a bookcase. At last he stole 
down at night, and succeeded in extracting the roll of music 
through the opening of the wires. He had no light, so the 
moon had to serve him while he made a copy of the precious 
treasure. By the end of six months the work was finished 
a work which none but the most ardent votary of his art 
could ever have undertaken. But his brother soon discovered 
him with the hardly won copy, and was so hard-hearted as 
to take it away from him. 7 The perseverance of true genius, 
with which we shall at a later date still see Sebastian Bach 
striving after the end on which he had set his heart, is as 
evident in this story as the fact that he soon had no more to 
learn from his eldest brother. The most important thing in 
the matter to us is that he must, while yet a boy, have been 
acquainted with Pachelbel's creations and with the spirit of 
his art. How, as a man of honour, he repaid his brother 
fifteen years later, shall be told in its place. 

At Ohrdruf he began at the same time to lay the founda- 
tions of a general education. The " Lyceum " or academy 
there, founded in 1560 by the Counts von Gleichen, enjoyed a 
by no means small reputation. It was comparatively well 
endowed, could point to many competent and learned 
teachers, and could send scholars from its first class to 

7 Mitler, Mus. Bib., Vol. IV., p. 161. It is here erroneously stated 
that Sebastian did not recover possession of the book till after his brother's 
death, which occurred soon after, and that it was his death which led to his 
departure for Liineburg ; Forkel, pp. 4, 5, repeats this. But the fact that 
Sebastian's sons and pupils antedated Joh. Christoph's death by about twenty 
years is a proof that his influence was not regarded as of special value in the 
development of Sebastian's talent ; otherwise more attention would have been 
directed to the principal events of his life. 


the university. In the course of the seventeenth century 
it numbered six classes, the lowest three forming the 
people's school, since those who did not aspire to a learned 
education were sent home during the Latin and Greek 
lessons. Still, even in the upper classes those might have a 
share of the instruction who were exempt from studying the 
dead languages. However, there were certainly not many 
branches of study remaining. That Sebastian was not one 
of those who claimed this exemption is proved by the know- 
ledge of Latin as peculiar to himself as it was thorough 
which is self-evident in his letters and official documents ; 
and, indeed, it may be taken for granted from all the 
traditions of the Bach family. To judge by the age at 
which he left his brother's house, he cannot have risen 
beyond the second class in Ohrdruf (the first class being 
the highest) ; and, indeed, what he learnt must, from the 
divisions of the schools at that time, have been one-sided 
enough. Theology, Latin, and Greek the last only on 
the basis of the New Testament formed almost the whole 
of the course of instruction, with a little rhetoric and 
arithmetic. Of the Roman writers those studied in this 
class were Cornelius Nepos and Cicero, particularly his 
epistles. The rest of the instruction consisted in learning 
grammatical rules written in Latin, with exercises in prosody, 
in disputation, and in style. French, almost indispensable 
to the culture of the time, was entirely neglected, as also 
was history. 8 For music five hours out of the thirty hours 
of study per week were set aside in the first and second 
classes, and four in the third and fourth ; and the chorus of 
singers appears to have been at this time an institution 
of great importance, under the conduct of the cantor. His 
province included, besides the church services on Sunday 

* Rudloff, Geschichte des Lyceums zu Ohrdruf. Arnstadt, 1845. He 
gives a scheme of study, p. 20, which I have here followed. It is certainly as 
early as 1660, but in the course of the century at the utmost the requirements 
in each branch of learning may have been somewhat raised. Any more 
extensive variety of branches of learning was not introduced till the beginning 
of the eighteenth century. Lessons in history were given in Ohrdruf from 
the year 1716 (Rudloff, p. 14). French was not taught till 1740 (Ibid, p. 17). 


and festivals, the performance of motetts and concertos at 
weddings and funerals, as well as the perambulations with 
singing, at fixed times, from door to door. The regularity 
of the school lessons was no doubt seriously interfered with 
by this arrangement ; indeed, it would seem that at Ohrdruf, 
as distinguished from other places in Thuringia, it was the 
custom for the scholars to share in the entertainment at 
weddings, not unfrequently to the detriment alike of their 
moral and physical balance. How fully the school chorus 
was occupied is evident from their receipts, which, during the 
third quarter of the year 1720 amounted to 237 thalers, 
ii groschen, and 6 pfennige. 9 Here Sebastian found fresh 
food for his genius, and it can be shown that he rose to be 
one of the foremost singers, perhaps, indeed, to be a " con- 
certist," receiving a fixed stipend and a larger share in the 
subdivision and distribution of the earnings of the choir. 
From the year 1696 Job. Christoph Kiesewetter was Rector 
of the school : a very learned man, who in 1712 went to 
fill the same office at the academy of Weimar, and there 
once more met with his former pupil, Sebastian Bach, as 
court organist and chamber musician. The offices of sub- 
warden and master of the second class were held from 1695 
till 1728 by Job. Jeremias Bottiger. 10 The religious tone of 
the school was strictly orthodox, and all the masters, in- 
cluding Job. Christoph Bach, had to sign the Concordien 
book. 11 Under these auspices Sebastian grew to be a youth. 
When he was fifteen it was his fate to have to stand on 
his own feet ; he was forced into independence by circum- 
stances. His brother's increasing family made the house 
too narrow ; besides, he felt that there was no more to be 
gained by remaining in that place, and was conscious of 
sufficient strength to go on without further help from others. 
What step he should take was ere long settled by a happy 
accident. It was Elias Herda, who had been Cantor to the 

Rudloff, p 

- nuuiuit, p. 45. 

10 Bruckner, pp. 83, 86. 

11 Concordia e Joh. Muclleri, manuscripto edita. Lips, et Jena, 1705, 
p. 59 


Academy since 1698, a young musician of four-and-twenty, 
who, beyond a doubt, showed him his path. His father, a 
farrier at Leina, near Gotha, had some years before made 
a journey to Liineburg, while his son, then about the same 
age as Bach now was, was studying in the Academy at Gotha 
and cultivating his musical talents. There he had heard 
from a man of that country that in Lower Saxony boys from 
Thuringia were in great favour, on account of their musical 
talents and proficiency, and that the Cantor of the Church of 
the Benedictine monks of St. Michael at Liineburg was just 
now seeking such a lad, whom he would provide for and 
maintain. Herda remarked that he himself had a musical 
son of about the right age, and the Cantor being informed of 
it, succeeded, by opportunely representing the case, in getting 
young Herda to go to Liineburg. There he at once obtained 
a free place at the refectory table, and remained for six years. 
He afterwards studied theology for two years at Jena, and 
soon after received the appointment in which he became 
Bach's teacher, perhaps in music only. 12 It is easy to 
guess what followed. Sebastian had a fine soprano voice, 13 
distinguished himself by his zeal and his performance, and 
became a favourite with the young cantor. When the ques- 
tion arose as to his further progress in life, he recommended 
him to the school of the Convent of St. Michael, at Liine- 
burg, where his own memory was still green, and where the 
name of Bach was already well-known, from two of the most 
distinguished of those who had borne it. Indeed, two good 
singers must have been needed there at the same time, for 
with Sebastian there went thither his friend and contem- 
porary Georg Erdmann, also a young Thuringian of musical 
gifts, who, in after years, though his own path of life led in a 
different direction, never forgot this youthful friendship. 14 
They set out on their journey about Easter 1700, and 

12 Bruckner, p. 88. 

13 Mizler, op. cit. 

14 I have not been able to discover Erdmann's birthplace. If the parish 
register is perfect, he was not born at Ohrdruf. In the Imperial archives at 
Moscow, acts referring to him only record that he was a native of Sax-Gotha 
nor could I find any account of his parents. 


entered the chorus of St. Michael's School in April. They 
were at once admitted, on their proficiency, into the select 
troop of the " matins scholars," and immediately allowed 
the second grade salary given to the discantists at that 
time. 15 Erdmann stands above Bach in the list, whence we 
may conclude that he was in a higher class. We see that 
they can hardly have gone to Liineburg without some preli- 
minary introduction that they cannot have gone there 
merely at a venture. The matins singers formed the 
main body of the choir, and must have been supported by 
the Convent. Hence exceptional talents and powers were 
looked for, and certainly the requirements must have been 
something more than merely a fine voice and practice in 
part-singing, when choristers were sought out from Central 
Germany. Sebastian Bach, at the age of fifteen, would not 
have ventured on his first flight into the world merely on the 
strength of his soprano voice ; nay, we learn that he soon lost 
it in Liineburg, and for a long time could not sing at all. 16 
But the opportunity was all the more favourable for showing 
himself a skilled instrumentalist. When the cantor was re- 
hearsing the singing, an accompaniment was needed on the 
harpsichord; in performances with concerted accompaniments 
the violin was needed, not to mention other opportunities ; 
indeed, we know that the St. John's School instituted a special 
band of instruments which, at the New Year, marched playing 
through the streets, thus finding a source of profit. The 
Thuringians had always had a greater gift for this form of 
musical art than for singing, and it certainly was in a great 
degree, if not altogether, his proficiency as a violinist, 
clavier-player, and organist that procured Sebastian his 
admission among the matins scholars of St. Michael. 
Whether subsequently, when his voice had completely 
changed, he became prefect of the choir since he remained 

15 At my request, Professor W. Junghans, of Liineburg, has searched out 
much information as to the musical affairs of St. Michael's School from the 
archives of the convent, with an amount of care worthy of all gratitude, and 
published them, with other details as to the practice of music in Liineburg 
itself, in the " Easter programme " of 1870, 

* Mizler. 


three years at Ltineburg is not known ; but it may be fairly 
supposed in that position he had to undertake a certain 
share of the duties of direction, and particularly the leading 
of the processional singing. 

At any rate his outward needs were provided for. Beyond 
a doubt he and his companion Erdmann were allowed seats 
at the free board of the Convent, like Herda before them, for 
this privilege was granted to all the matins scholars, of which 
the average number at that time was about fifteen. The 
salary was paid monthly, and for the first two months after 
Bach's appointment of which alone the account has been 
preserved it amounted to twelve groschen a month ; the 
highest sum to which he could gradually rise was one 
thaler a month. If he was able to add to this the office of 
accompanist on the harpsichord, this would bring him in an 
income of twelve thalers a year. Still the principal revenue 
flowed to the whole choir of the college, of which the matins 
singers constituted only the nucleus ; it consisted at that time 
of from twenty to thirty members, and its income was derived 
from the processional singing in the streets, and from 
weddings and funeral solemnities. In the year 1700 the 
receipts came to 372 marks, of which the cantor, according 
to custom, took a sixth part ; the prefect received fifty-six 
marks, and the remainder each a share in proportion to his 
standing in the choir. As has already been said, the School 
of St. John had a choir which was conducted in precisely 
the same way, so it may be inferred how strong the feeling 
for music must have been in Luneburg at that time. A 
certain rivalry, which is easily understood, existed between 
the two choirs and certainly bore good fruit, though it had 
occasionally given rise to conflicts when, at the season for 
processional singing which was only in the winter half- 
year the choirs came into opposition. For this reason the 
streets had long been exactly designated in which, each day, 
the choirs were to sing. 

The employment of the St. Michael's Choir in the services of 
the church was tolerably extensive. An order for the regula- 
tion of matins and vespers, of the year 1656, assigns a place 
and use to concerted church compositions, as well as to motetts 


and hymns in parts, and to anthems or spiritual arias in one 
or more parts. On eighteen certain festivals of the ecclesias- 
tical year a complete choir and orchestra performed, as well 
as on other occasions, not unfrequently by special order. 
Thus, in 1656-57, the complete band performed thirty times; 
in 1657-58, thirty-four times. On other Sundays and holy- 
days a motett at least was performed at morning service, 
and at afternoon service an aria with organ accompani- 
ment. Indeed, it is evident that the Convent grudged no 
means for the maintenance of an efficient choral body, and 
for the appointment of noble and worthy church music, 
since in the year 1702-3, for instance, it devoted to this 
purpose the sum of more than 507 thalers, at that time con- 
siderable. The shelves of the musical library were rilled 
with an unusual abundance of treasures, and their con- 
tents may be seen in the catalogue for the year 1696, still 
existing in the archives. Besides the various important 
collected works of earlier composers, as the Promptuarium 
Musicum of Schadaeus, and Florilegium Portense of Boden- 
schatz, the seventeenth century was represented by the most 
important published works of all the most esteemed German 
masters of that period : Schiitz, Scheidt, Hammerschmidt, 
Job. Rud. Able, Briegel, Rosenmiiller, Tob. Michael, Schop, 
Jeep, Cruger, Selle, Joh. Krieger, and others. The Cantor, 
Friedr. Emanuel Praetorius, alone (1655-1694) acquired 
many more than a hundred volumes. 17 Besides these there 
was a collection of 1,102 sacred pieces, as it would seem 
in manuscript only, among which Heinrich Bach and Joh. 
Christoph Bach, " Henrici filius" were represented each 
by one work. Since Joh. Jakob Low, a native of Eisenach, 
was at that time Organist at the Church of St. Nikolaus at 
Liineburg, it was probably by his instrumentality that the 
North German town became acquainted with the two Thu- 
ringian masters ; at any rate it is interesting to learn that 
the name of Bach was known there before the advent of 
Sebastian. That of Joh. Pachelbel is also to be found. 
A few compositions by Georg Ludwig Agricola, the little- 

17 Junghans, pp. 26, 28, has given the whole catalogue. 


known Capellmeister of Gotha, who died quite young, may 
have been introduced by Herda. 18 

Thus we see there was ample opportunity for Sebastian 
Bach to gather knowledge and experience in the province 
of vocal church music. But the whole course of his life 
shows that his development was based on instrumental 
music, too plainly for us not to suppose that he looked on 
the vocal side of his art as less important, and subsidiary to 
his training as an instrumental player and composer. To 
look for his teacher in these branches would be waste of 
trouble ; the only function that any master could fulfil to- 
wards this great genius that of curbing for a time with 
a steady hand the sportive and soaring exuberance of early 
youth, until it should have found a sure footing had been 
supplied by the traditions and influences of his race. These 
afforded Sebastian Bach the discipline which Mozart his 
peer in native genius derived from the chastening severity 
of his watchful father. Thus the young tree grew up, almost 
of its own accord, in the direction in which it could best 
spread and flourish ; just as a plant turns instinctively to- 
wards the sun, so he grew towards the side where he felt 
that light and space were awaiting him. When the best 1 
authorities as to Sebastian's life tell us that he learnt com- 
position, for the most part, merely by study and contem- 
plation of the best works of the most famous and learned 
compositions of the time, and from his own mental assimi- 
lation of them, we may not only be assured of the per- 
fect accuracy of this observation, but may also extend it to his 
technical accomplishment. His eminent executive talent, 
when once he had surmounted the preliminary steps, only 
required to watch and note the performances of good execu- 
tants in order to acquire all that it needed. 

The restless industry of genius which is rather one of' 
the forces of nature than an outcome of the prompting of 
our moral consciousness irresistibly urged him forward and 

18 Junghans has also printed the catalogue of this second collection, but in 
an abridged form, pp. 28, 29. The whole musical library of the Convent of St. 
Michael has been dispersed and lost. 



gave him no rest, even at night, from the solution of the 
problems he set himself. Hence it is of exceptional im- 
portance to our knowledge of his progress that we should 
be acquainted both with the persons and the artistic 
influences which can be proved, or even supposed, to have 
have had a determining effect on it. What the Cantor 
and the Organist of St. Michael's Church may have done in 
this way the former was named Augustus Braun and the 
latter Christoph Morhardt 19 can now no longer be even 
guessed. The musical library contained twenty-four pieces 
by Braun, with and without instrumental accompaniment ; 
these are lost, nor is any opinion of either of them by a 
contemporary to be found. It is equally impossible to state 
what sort of organ the church possessed ; it can have been 
nothing remarkable, since a new one was constructed in the 
second decade of the eighteenth century. 20 

Low, the organist, to be sure, enjoyed a reputation as an 
experienced and thoroughly sound artist. He had cultivated 
his talents in Italy and at Vienna, and was a friend of 
Heinrich Schiitz, who brought him to Wolfenbuttel as Capell- 
Director in i655 21 Bach would certainly not have kept 
aloof from this his countryman, particularly if Low, as we 
may suppose, had been acquainted with Heinrich and Chris- 
toph Bach, although he was now an old man 22 and could 
hardly have had full sympathy with the stirrings of a young 
genius. But I do not know a single note of his compositions, 
and cannot venture on any merely general conjecture as to 
his artistic influence. 

However, a fourth musician exerted a recognisable and 
considerable influence over Bach. This was Georg Bohm, 
who was also his countryman, and the Organist of St. John's 
Church. Goldbach, near Gotha, is mentioned as his native 

" Junghans, pp. 35, 39. 

ao Niedt, Mus. Handleit. Part II., p. 191. 

81 See an interesting letter from Schiitz to the Duchess Sophia Elisabeth, 
written on this occasion, and given by Fr. Chrysander, Jahrbiicher fur 
musikalische Wissenschaft, I., p. 162. (Leipzig : Breitkopf and Hartel, 1863.) 
Compare also pp. 166, 167. 

M He was born in 1628, as Junghans reckons, p. 39. 


place, and 1661 as the date of his birth. 28 He had held 
his office from the year 1698, and died at Liineburg at an 
advanced age j 24 he had previously lived at Hamburg. 
This man must have had a special attraction for Bach, 
because his method as an organist was nearly allied to 
that which Bach was then pursuing. Bohm had en- 
deavoured to elevate and expand what he had been able 
to learn or to elaborate in Thuringia as an organist, by 
knowledge derived from the masters of North Germany. 
The bare statement that he had resided in Hamburg would 
certainly be an insufficient foundation for this assertion if it 
were not clearly proved to be true by his compositions. 
The Liineburg organist holds a position between the 
organ musicians of Central Germany and those of North 
Germany, such as they had become about the middle of 
the century; a position which corresponds approximately 
to that of his place of residence, lying between the towns 
of Thuringia on one hand, and Hamburg, Liibeck, Husum, 
Flensburg, &c., the headquarters of the North German 
masters. The influence of Sweelinck, the Dutch organist, 
had gained deeper ground in this district than in any other 
part of Germany ; and a son of the same soil, Johann Adam 
Reinken (born at Deventer, April 27, 1623, died as Organist 
to St. Katherine's Church at Hamburg, November 24, 1722 *), 
had aided materially in extending this influence by his re- 
markable talent and unusually long life. Its distinguishing 
characteristics are technical neatness, pleasing ingenuity, 
and a taste for subtle effects of tone. As compared with the 
calm severity and sunny cheerfulness of the organ-style of 
the south, we here not unfrequently find a meandering 
looseness of form no composer has written longer arrange- 

38 Walther, Mus. Lex., p. 98. The register of Goldbach does not mention 
him, but it was not carefully kept. The year of his birth was calculated 
by Junghans, p. 39, from data given by Bohm in a document preserved at 

24 Junghans, p. 38, appears to give 1734 as the year of his death. Mattheson, 
on the other hand, in his Vollkommene Capellmeister, published 1739, p. 479, 
speaks of him as though he were still living. 

83 Mattheson, Critica musica, Vol. L, pp. 255, 256. 

O 2 


ments of chorales than Reinken, Liibeck, and Buxtehude 
and romantic picturesqueness ; and this contrast still holds 
good, in great measure, even under comparison with the 
style of Central Germany after it had entered into its 
inheritance of the culture of the South. This school was 
in great danger of squandering its strength in mere ingenuity 
of external elaboration, but its peculiarities could be turned 
to account for delightful ornamentation when wielded by 
an artist of deep feeling and learning. 

Such an artist was Bohm, and a great musical genius 
besides. If he had lived at a period when he could have 
had the benefit of that deep-reaching transformation in art 
which was produced by Pachelbel's appearance in Thuringia, 
his compositions would probably have been greater than 
those of all his contemporaries. As it was, the man who 
was destined to amalgamate the different lines of art, to 
collect in one centre all the forces that had come into play in 
organ music, was he who, by his receptive and assimilative 
powers, now attached himself closely to the elder master. 
Bohm seems to have been on friendly relations with the choir 
of St. Michael, since we learn that, at the beginning of the 
year 1705, the prefect of that choir went to him with certain 
members of the St. John's choir, and had with him " much 
reasoning concerning music." 26 Or was this alliance first 
formed by Sebastian Bach, who was possibly prefect until 

Bohm had learned from Reinken, and it was part of 
Sebastian's original nature that he could only drink from the 
spring-head. Hamburg was no great distance off, and it is 
probable that just at this very time his cousin Joh. Ernst 
Bach (son of his father's brother, Joh. Christoph Bach 
of Arnstadt) was residing in Hamburg for his musical 
education. 27 A holiday excursion thither may therefore 
have seemed advisable from family motives, and as it would 
enable him to hear Reinken play, and, perhaps, to make 

26 Junghans, p. 40, from a document of February 13, 1705. 

tf Joh. Ernst was born in 1683, and it seems unlikely that he should, at his 
own cost, undertake such a journey to put the finishing stroke to his education 
before he was at least seventeen or eighteen years of age. 


his personal acquaintance, Sebastian must soon have 
regarded it almost as a necessity. If the idea is a correct 
one, that his cousin in Hamburg who was two years 
older than himself first tempted and led him there, the 
liberality with which he gave up, at Arnstadt, a portion of 
his salary to Joh. Ernst, then in great necessity, at a time, 
too, when he himself had particular need of the money, 
points to a striking trait in his character. He had the 
grateful spirit which cannot lightly forget a benefit, and 
with it the self-respect of independent individuality which 
makes it a pleasure and satisfaction to fulfil a duty. His 
conduct towards his elder brother was precisely the same. 

After he had once made acquaintance with Hamburg he 
frequently repeated such excursions, which of course were 
always made on foot, and with the most humble means of 
subsistence; but he was accustomed at home to the very 
simplest mode of living. F. W. Marpurg, who was on the 
most intimate terms with the circle of the Bachs, had an 
anecdote which Sebastian Bach used to delight in telling 
later in life. On one of his journeys to Hamburg all his 
money was spent but a few shillings. He had seated him- 
self outside an inn hardly half-way on his return journey, and 
was meditating on his hard fate while sniffing the delicious 
savours proceeding from the kitchen, when a window was 
opened with a clatter, and two herrings' heads were flung out. 
The hungry lad picked them up, and found in each a Danish 
ducat. This unexpected wealth enabled him not only to 
satisfy his hunger, but to make another expedition to see 
Reinken. The identity of his benefactor, however, was 
never known to him. 28 

Reinken's compositions have become very few and rare. 
The only one he published is a volume of Suites for two violins, 
viola, and continuo, entitled Hortus musicus. I shall presently 
adduce evidence that Bach knew this well and valued it 
highly. For the present this is not important. 29 Only five 

28 Simon Metaphrastes, Legende einiger Musik-heiligen ; Colin am Rhein, 
1786, p. 74. 
39 Mattheson, Ehrenpforte, p. 517. 


more compositions by him in all, for organ or clavier, can be 
mentioned as extant ; but it is probable that these have come 
to us in a direct line from Sebastian Bach' s music shelves, thus 
confirming the exactitude of the remark in the Necrology, 
that Bach went to Reinken for his models among others. A 
chorale arrangement of " Es ist gewisslich an der Zeit (Was 
kann uns kommen an fur Noth)" " It certainly is now the 
time," for two manuals and pedal, in G major, common time, 
contains no less than 232 bars. Every separate line is richly 
worked out in the form of the motett, some quite simply, some 
with elaborate ornamentation; the independent interludes, 
however, are but meagre. The composition is full of flow ; 
changes of time which were much in favour with most oi 
these masters are here disdained; the two manuals cross 
each other in a masterly and very delightful way. 80 The 
organ chorale on "An Wasserflussen Babylon" "By the 
waters of Babylon," even extends to 335 bars, in F major, 
common time. This attained a certain celebrity from an 
incident in Bach's after life, but it fully merits it on its own 
account. The plan and character are the same; single lines 
are frequently treated as supplying distinct themes for 
counterpoint, but this does not give rise to a rule for the 
treatment of every line. The North German masters rather 
looked for the development of grand combinations and various 
complicated figures in the widest possible framework, and it 
was on this that their peculiar form of organ chorale was 
founded. 81 

Very remarkable, too, is a toccata in G major, common 
time. The Northern masters had also worked out a 
special form for great independent organ pieces. They 
began with a prelude full of brilliant passages. After it they 
brought in a fugue, then introduced an ornate intermezzo, 
and finally returned to the theme, now altered both in rhythm 

M This is to be found in a book among the papers left by Joh. Ludw. Krebs, 
Sebastian Bach's most distinguished scholar. This volume, after passing 
through the hands of two organists of Altenburg, is now in the possession of 
Herr F. A. Roitzsch, musician, of Leipzig. 

81 This composition exists in MS. in the Library of the Royal Inst. fur Church 
Music at Berlin. 


and melodic form, using it for a fresh fugue which closed the 
whole, and which sometimes had appended to it a showy 
running passage. Reinken's toccata is precisely after this 
pattern, and it is particularly interesting for this reason 
that we possess a work by Bach formed strictly on this 
model, which we shall presently consider more in detail, 
with certain similar works by Buxtehude. But it may at 
once be said that none of those masters were usually very 
happy in their invention of themes for fugues. Their ideas 
certainly appear to flow more spontaneously than those of 
the southern composers, but they are not melodious, not 
expressive, not graceful enough. The reason, no doubt, is 
that this school of composers gave but a one-sided attention to 
the chorale, and did not go into it thoroughly, so that the com- 
plete beauty of true melody was never fully revealed to them. 
How to combine the greatest brilliancy of ornamentation with 
the noblest flights of melody was not yet known. Sebastian 
Bach was destined to show it. All these general reflections 
apply to Reinken's toccata. It is nowhere grandly con- 
ceived, but it is full of grace and felicitous ease, par- 
ticularly the second half. The same must be said with 
reference to the two pieces with variations that remain by 
this master, which, in fertility and variety of figures, are 
superior to the variations by Joh. Christoph Bach previously 
spoken of, coming very near them in their spirit, and testi- 
fying to a very considerable amount of technical execution. 82 
One is founded on a merry air, " Schweiget mir vom Wei- 
bernehmen" (altrimenti chiamata : La Meyerin, as the MS. 
adds) " Speak not to me of marrying," and has eight 
partitas. 88 The other set are ten variations on a " ballet." 
This serves to remind us that at that time German opera 

M They are preserved with the toccata in a book which belonged to Andreas 
Bach, of Ohrdruf, Sebastian's nephew, and which certainly came to him from 
his brother, who lived for some time in Sebastian's house. It belonged more 
recently to C. F. Becker, who bequeathed it with his whole library to the town 
of Leipzig. 

88 The " Meyerin " must have been a well-known air. Froberger also com- 
posed a series of elegant variations on it, which are included in a collection of 
toccatas, fantasias, canzone, &c., dedicated by the composer to the Emperor 
Ferdinand III., at Vienna, September 29, 1649. 


was flourishing greatly at Hamburg, and that the easy-living 
Reinken was one of those who, in 1678, had set this under- 
taking going. 84 But the opportunity which, some little time 
later, seemed to Handel the best fitted for the development 
of his very different projects and ideas, was passed over with 
indifference by Sebastian Bach. Handel was in Hamburg 
from 1703 to 1706 ; Bach probably visited it for the last time 
in 1703. The two great geniuses came then and there into 
closer contiguity than at any other stage of their career. 
Even Reinken's personal influence could not affect Bach, 
even if the great difference in their ages had allowed him 
to regard him with anything but youthful admiration: but 
more of this when, twenty years later, we shall find Bach, 
at the climax of his artistic career, meeting for the last 
time with Reinken, then nearly a hundred years old. 

However, it was not from him alone that he could learn in 
Hamburg. From the year 1702 Vincentius Liibeck had been 
working there as Organist to the Church of St. Nikolaus. 
He was born in 1654, and had previously been employed at 
Stade ; he likewise was a disciple of Reinken's, and an 
admirable master in his line. The same source which sup- 
plies us with the above-mentioned chorale arrangement by 
Reinken also contains others by Lubeck " Ich ruf zu dir, 
Herr Jesu Christ " for two manuals and pedal, E minor, 275 
bars ; " Nun lasst uns Gott dem Herren," also for two 
manuals and pedal ; moreover, a grand prelude with a fugue, 
D minor, 174 bars, exhibiting great technical skill, particu- 
larly in the prelude. 85 So we may surely accept this as a 
token that Bach did not neglect this opportunity of improving 
his knowledge and skill. 

The statement of the Necrology, that he took as models 
certain distinguished French composers for the organ, 
besides the principal North German organists, 86 will serve as 

84 Mattheson, Der musikalische Patriot. 

85 Both these pieces are to be found in another organ-book formerly belong- 
ing to Krebs, and now to Herr Roitzsch. 

86 Musikalische Bibliothek, p. 162. Here certainly it is said with reference to 
Bach's studies at Arnstadt, where he fed upon the store he had laid up during 
his stay at Liineburg. 


my excuse if, instead of returning at once to Bohm, at Liine- 
burg, I first follow the indefatigable Sebastian in his journeys 
to another centre of art, which he repeatedly visited as well 
as Luneburg. At the Ducal Court of Celle the instrumental 
dance-music of the French had been in great favour ever 
since the middle of the seventeenth century, and in 
choosing the members of the band great weight was attached 
to their being all able, when required, to play this sort 
of music. 87 Without doubt French clavier-music was also 
held in preference there. It had indeed many advantages 
over the German, and must always have been regarded 
as a model for its elegance and grace. One of the few 
important musicians who were born in Germany in the 
fourth and fifth decades of the seventeenth century was a 
native of Celle, Nikolaus Adam Strungk, born 1640, who 
was prominent as a composer and player on the organ 
and violin. He was installed at the Court of Celle in 
1661, with a salary of 220 thalers. From 1678 to 1683 
he directed and composed operas at Hamburg, then held 
the post of Capellmeister in various places last at 
Dresden and died at Leipzig in ijoo. 88 If we had a 
more complete knowledge of the skilled musicians who 
figured at Celle between the years 1700 and 1703, it would, 
no doubt, appear that Bach had some personal acquaintance 
or connections there, which made a temporary residence 
there profitable to him. For when we are told that by 
frequently hearing the Celle band at that time very famous 

87 An estimate of what " pertains to a rightly constituted band," of the year 
1663, exists in the Provinzial-Archiv at Hanover, and runs as follows : 
" i. Director musices ; 2. An alto ; 3. A tenor; 4. A bass, who all three could 
at the same time play the violin in French music ; 5. Two violists, prepared 
both in ordinary and French music, which we have already ; 6. A player on the 
viol di gamba, which also we have ; 7. An organist, which likewise we have ; 
8. A trombonist orfagottist, who can also sing a part and use the violin in ordinary 
and in French music ; 9. A cornetist who can play a violin in French music ; 
10. Two choir-boys; u. A blower; in all thirteen persons." All information 
is unfortunately wanting as to the time of Duke Georg Wilhelm down to 
1705, when the line became extinct. 

88 His compositions for the organ seem to have remained hitherto unknown. 
I possess an elaborate and very beautiful arrangement by him of the chorale, 
" Ich dank dir schon durch deinen Sohn." 


he had an opportunity of making himself familiar with the 
French style, 89 this can only have been possible if some 
acquaintance procured him admission to the rehearsals, for 
the band never played in public. The only name, how- 
ever, which has come to light is that of the city organist 
at the time, Arnold Melchior Brunckhorst, from whose 
musical efforts and relations to the world of art nothing was 
to be gained. The presumption is strong that it was the first 
opportunity that was offered to Bach for acquiring a more 
thorough knowledge of French music; and that his desire 
for knowledge should have chiefly included clavier music is 
probable, both from his own tendencies and from the con- 
dition of French orchestral music at that time. Thus the 
interest which he actually brought to bear on French com- 
posers for the clavier, may be, for the most part, referred to 
the impulse received at this period. A Suite in A major, by 
N. Grigny, Organist to the Cathedral at Rheims, about 
1700, and a similar composition in F minor, by Dieupart, 
he copied out with his own hand. 40 In collections of selected 
works, such as were made later by Bach's pupils, we find, 
side by side with numerous works by their master, pieces by 
Marchand, Nivers, Anglebert, Dieupart, Clairembault, and 
others, a proof that Bach directed them to such works. He 
was, indeed, certainly familiar with the works of Fran9ois 
Couperin, the most important of those composers. 41 It can- 
not, however, be overlooked that even Bohm was more than 
merely superficially touched by the influence of the French, 

M Musikalische Bibliothek. It is evident, from what has been said above, 
that the statement that the French style was at that time something new in 
that neighbourhood, is incorrect in so wide a sense. 

40 The autograph was formerly in the possession of Aloys Fuchs, at Vienna; 
where it is now is not known. A copy from the autograph, with a superscrip- 
tion by Fuchs, is in the Royal Library at Berlin. Both Suites alike consisted 
oi the following parts: overture, allemande, courante, saraband, gavotte, minuet, 
gigue. Appended is a list of twenty-nine different ornaments, with directions for 
performing them. So long as the autograph does not come to light it will be 
impossible to say whether it was written at the time of Bach's residence at 
Liineburg or later. 

41 Forkel. p. 15, ed. i. This deserves all the more acceptance, since he 
undoubtedly must have had decisive and complete information on this point 
from Ph. Em. Bach. 


as is proved more particularly by his love for ornate embel- 
lishments and florid treatment of melodic passages; and if 
he did not precisely arouse Bach's desire to make acquaint- 
ance with French music, he no doubt must have strength- 
ened it. It is no longer possible to point out any direct 
effects of that foreign style in Bach's mode of composition, 
but only, perhaps, because the pieces that might illustrate 
it no longer exist; for the so-called " French Suites," works 
of Bach's age of ripest mastery, have no right to the epithet 
in this sense. Perhaps, however, and this is more likely, 
such amalgamation as was possible of the German element 
with the French had already been accomplished in all its 
essentials, in the individuality of Bohm himself as an artist, 
so that Bach chiefly imbibed the French element through 
this medium. 

But in order to do justice to Bach's relations to Bohm in 
particular, it will be necessary to throw a clear light on 
Bohm's artistic efforts, and on his style in his different 
compositions. What I have been able by degrees to collect 
of these consists of three clavier Suites, an overture (and 
Suite), a prelude with a fugue these two also for the 
clavier and eighteen arrangements of chorales, of which 
a large proportion are worked out in partitas, besides 
an air in four parts, " Jesu, theure Gnadensonne" " Jesu, 
living Sun of grace," a New Year's hymn, no doubt written 
for the procession choir of St. John's. 42 These only suffice 
to give us a very small idea of his style of writing, and it is 
much to be regretted that nothing more has been preserved 
of the works of so remarkable and admirable a composer. 
His strength lay rather in composing for the clavier than for 
the organ, as is not difficult to understand from the ex- 
tensive influence that was exercised over him, not only by 
the North German composers, but also by the French. This 
applies equally to his chorale arrangements, even though he 
may have intended all, or at any rate most of them, for the 

42 Winterfeld, Ev. Kir., II., p. 502, informs us that melodies by Bohm 
occur in an edition of Elmenhorst's hymns, published about 1700. I have not 
met with this edition. 


organ, and have performed them on it himself. The limit 
line between these two instruments seems to have been still 
ill-defined, even by the composers at the end of the seven- 
teenth century. In estimating those intimate reciprocal 
relations which the Form and the Idea must bear to each 
other in every work of art, we cannot but attribute to Bbhm's 
chorales a disproportionately smaller measure of ideality than 
to those of Pachelbel. That master set himself the task of 
giving an artistic presentment of the chorale with all its signi- 
ficance in the Protestant worship, and in all its bearings 
to the subjective sentiment of the individual worshipper. 
Bohm's endeavour was to elaborate from the chorale, and on 
it, as a basis, pleasing and various forms of tone in which 
we can at most detect the general fundamental feeling 
of the chorale. It is tolerably clear from his works that 
he was very well acquainted with Pachelbel's method, and 
availed himself of it : but he did not follow in his footsteps ; 
his genius was far too individual. The melody " Vater 
unser im Himmelreich " " Our Father which art in heaven," 
he does once begin to treat just in the manner we are 
accustomed to in Pachelbel. The first line is fugal, and then, 
in conclusion, is transferred entirely and emphatically to the 
pedal, not, indeed, in augmentation, but still with sufficient 
stress. But in the second line Bohm himself appears with 
his own characteristics; the theme for the ensuing fugue 
does not appear in its simple form 

but modified by a break in the time, by connecting semi- 
quavers and dotted accentuation and grace notes 


1 H p 



* ^ 


In the course of the piece these fancies gain the upper 
hand, leading further and further from the original subject. 
The lines of the chorale, which ought to appear as the aim 
and crown of each phrase of elaboration, are more and more 
thrown into the shade, and only saunter in, as it were, un- 


supported in the pedal ; nay, in the last line but one, the 
chorale seems caught up in the general hurry, and must 
submit to be spun out by about six notes. Thus a motley 
and fantastic picture is composed, which is not fully justified 
either as an organ piece or as a chorale arrangement, but 
which, nevertheless, is decidedly attractive from its ingenuity, 
its distinctive and truly musical stamp, and the elegance and 
skill of the interweaving of the parts. Another time Bohm 
pitches on the melody " Allein Gott in der Hoh sei Ehr" 
" Honour to God alone most High," sets the first line in 
opposition to a beautiful cantabile counter-subject, and 
works both out in a really masterly double fugue. We 
here begin to think that no more is coming, or else that 
a brilliant treatment in Pachelbel's manner of the whole 
chorale will crown the work. No such thing. The second 
line follows the fugue in its simplest guise ; then the 
whole is repeated from the beginning, as though it were the 
unadorned melody, and the remainder is carried out with 
equal simplicity. It is a statue with the head and arms 
finely chiselled and the rest of it left in the block. 

But in setting a counter-theme to a line of a chorale, Bohm 
may join hands with Buxtehude, and in such arrangements he 
holds a place between the two masters ; above them we cannot 
say, for the reasons given. Buxtehude, who stands far below 
Pachelbel as regards a profound grasp of the chorale and in 
calm beauty, still is his superior in ingenuity of combinations 
and alluring harmony. There is a chorale arrangement by 
Bohm on "Christ lag in Todesbanden," which is so com- 
pletely in the style of Buxtehude's work, that one might feel 
inclined to assert that it must be ascribed to him, if the 
versatility of Bohm's talent were not set in the balance. 48 
The essence of this style consists in the motett-like treat- 
ment, already spoken of, of the single lines of the chorale, in 

43 Such a mistake might easily have occurred, since the names of the organists 
above the compositions are often indicated merely by their initials, and " G. B." 
(Georg Bohm) might very well have been written for " D. B." (Dietrich Buxte- 
hude). An old MS. copy of Pachelbel's chorale " Erhalt uns, Herr, bei deinem 
Wort " (Commer, No. 134), lies before me, signed with " G. B.," but I regard 
it as attributable to Buxtehude. 


which Buxtehude was particularly fond of changes of time, 
rhythmical modifications of the theme, and independent 
counter-subjects. More will be said on this matter in its 
proper place. The most singular mixture of his own 
methods of procedure with those of others occurs in Bohm's 
treatment of " Nun bitten wir den heilgen Geist," in which 
the manner of Pachelbel and Buxtehude appears side by side 
with Bohm's own. This in which he also wrote whole 
organ chorales, and, as he believed, could most freely reveal 
his own nature consists in this : that each separate line is 
not worked out polyphonically, but is thematically exhausted 
by the disseverance of its principal melodic ideas, and by 
their repetition, dissection, modification, and various recom- 
bination. Thus an ingenious brain could display its utmost 
inventiveness in transforming and modifying a musical 
thought, in nimble fancies, and graceful ornamentation. 
Nor was he bound as in variations strictly speaking, by 
the harmonic and rhythmical conditions of the theme, but 
could create new proportions and phrases, building up a 
composition all his own, and finding in it opportunities for 
contrapuntal elaboration. He must have been the first com- 
poser who availed himself in instrumental music of that 
development of the melodic constituents of a subject using 
them as independent themes and motives to form the 
component elements of a tone structure on a larger scale 
which played a principal part in the musical art of Beet- 
hoven's time. In the motett, no doubt, as we have already 
seen, similar metamorphoses had been effected with the 
chorale which, however, had necessarily acquired a quite 
different aspect, from the difference of the materials em- 
ployed. If we may speak of Pachelbel's and of Buxtehude's 
type of chorale, we certainly may also speak of Bohm's. 
Bohm must be regarded, if not as the inventor of the 
principle (since Frescobaldi, the Italian composer, had 
already practised the art of making one musical idea gene- 
rate a second), still as the composer who first applied it to 
the chorale. He did, in fact, create a new musical form; 
and this achievement, of which none but a genuinely fine 
talent is capable, assures him a place in the history of art. 



He also treated the form he had devised with much wealth 
and subtlety of invention. Thus, in his six partitas on 
" Herr Jesu Christ, dich zu uns wend " " Lord Jesu, turn 
Thy face to us," he constructs the following figure in the 
first of them, on the initial line : 


u T' h w i h J ^ 


rT. "" 

?_J _ 1 ^ . m d-z i_cJ -_j 







In the third line he begins it as follows 




>ed. 1 

- ~ b* r ^ j2=_^jg [ 

J J. - 

J> J __ J J.- 


F- , J 

~lp - 

The next line is highly coloured, the passages flying up 
and down from c' to c'" most gracefully, but in almost wanton 


sportiveness ; the third line again affords a parallel to the 
first, though worked out quite differently, and the fourth 
rolls on to the end in rich and vivid colouring, only pausing 
once, in the middle. The harmony throughout is as simple 
as in the first line. And there is another mannerism which 
Bohm so frequently combines with this mode of treatment 
that it may be regarded as an expression of his personal 
idiosyncrasy, quite peculiar to him. He constructs an 
ornate series of notes, forming two or three bars, to in- 
troduce the piece, usually in the bass, and then repeats 
the whole or portions of it as often as is feasible between 
the lines, using it even as counterpoint to them, and allow- 
ing it to reappear once more solo at the close. An example 
may here be given of such a " basso quasi ostinato" from 
another arrangement of " Vater unser im Himmelreich," as 
illustrating the process and as a basis for further remarks : 

This is followed by the three first notes of the melody, 
interwoven with ornaments in his fashion ; then the 
bass comes in alone, and it is not till then that the real 
treatment begins, into which fragmentary motives from the 
melody are thrown as occasion serves. Then, under cover 
of the long final note of the melody, he once more makes a 
diversion, and, as it were, closes the door. In the course of 
this proceeding we are so vividly reminded of certain tutti 
subjects in Italian instrumental concertos that it is doubtful 
whether a direct imitation was not intended. In one instance 
the ornate passage lies in the upper part ; the melody of 
"Aus tiefer Noth schrei ich zu dir" "I cried to Thee in 
direst need," is pitched in the tenor, and then, worked out 
as a motive, it is carried on in the Oberwerk by the left hand 
alone a device that could only have been hit upon by a 
remarkably clever head. What he produced, with this 
natural bent in the way of chorale variations, may easily be 
imagined ; in fact, his fancy was inexhaustible in novel 
transformations and new clothing of the melody. He 
delighted in such labours, but it is true that the chorale 


sank to the level of any ordinary secular air. That he 
always worked for the harpsichord rather than for the organ 
is shown by the fulness of the harmonies which he added to 
those simple chorales which commonly preface his partitas ; 
so that the progression of the parts is undistinguishable, and 
chords of five, six, and seven parts follow in succession. 
But Bohm could make much more use of the productions 
of the French school in independent clavier music than in 
the treatment of chorales. In fact, he assimilated its 
complete grace without falling into French floridness and 
coquetry, though he certainly often leans to these defects. 
On the other hand he far surpasses those masters in the 
richness of his harmonies and the expressiveness of his ideas. 
His Suites (in E flat major, C minor, A minor, and D major) 
are beyond question the best which I am acquainted with 
of the time before Sebastian Bach. One of these, that in 
D major, is preceded by an overture in the French form, 
and if the statement is well grounded, that Pachelbel was 
the first to transfer this to the clavier, we must regard 
Bohm as following his example. But, considering the much 
smaller connection which Pachelbel must have had with the 
French composers, we might almost imagine the reverse to be 
the truth. It is quite certain that the clavier was more Bohm's 
instrument, and the organ Pachelbel's ; and though Pachel- 
bel left Bohm far behind him in the chorale, still the Nurem- 
berg master wrote hardly anything that can compare with the 
prelude and fugue in G minor of the Luneburg composer. 

I have postponed the mention of this work to the last 
because in it Bohm's originality is most clearly and con- 
vincingly shown. In the first place, as to the whole form of 
the piece which deviates completely from anything we have 
yet known, and yet finds complete justification as a work of 
art that has grown from and round the musical idea we 
have a prelude in 3-2 time with arpeggio chords that sway 
up and down ; after a short connecting adagio a fugue 
worked out at great length ; finally, sotto voce and arpeggiato, 
an independent closing subject, of which the semiquavei 
movement slowly calms down to adagio ; and withal a mood 
so deep, so purely melancholy a dreaming and revelling in 



keenly sweet harmonies, such as is possible to the German 
nature alone, and yet, in the fugue especially, a grace such as 
at that time belonged only to the French, pervade this very 
lovely piece, which would of itself suffice to set its composer 
in the rank of the greatest creative talent of his day. We 
feel in it, in germ and in bud, something which could only open 
to its intoxicating bloom and perfume in the hands of Sebastian 
Bach. Those two preludes of the Wohltemperirte Clavier 
(C major, Part I. ; C sharp major, Part II.), which seem to 
have hardly any movement except in the harmonies, and yet 
ebb and flow with such restful pathos, and others like them 
have, in the beginning and end of Bohm's composition, 
if not their only precursor, at any rate, so far as I know, the 
only worthy one. It is significant that it was directly from 
the family of Sebastian Bach that this piece and the four 
Suites have come down to the present day. 44 And these 
Suites, in the same way, form the stepping-stone to those of 
Bach, in which the light and airy fancies of the French 
writers are ennobled to forms of undreamed-of beauty. 
Many details of striking similarity show how highly the 
great master valued them ; less, perhaps, because they had 
afforded him an indispensable fulcrum for his own produc- 
tions than because he felt himself in close affinity to his 
fellow-countryman, both in their natures and in the character 
of their training. When he produced the works we are 
speaking of he was far beyond the need of borrowing 
from another; but he must all the more have felt him- 
self drawn to Bohm in his youth, when he craved 
direction and instruction. In Bach's later life their innate 
resemblance was conspicuous in the department where 
Bohm was destined to do his best work. As a youth he 
imitated him in a branch of music in which, as a man, his 
detp religious bent led him to adopt very different forms 
the organ chorale. 

There are among Bach's works a few chorale partitas. An 
expert in such matters at once detects that they are early 
attempts. It has been supposed that they were composed 

* They are in the MS. previously mentioned as Andreas Bach's. 


in Arnstadt. I have not the smallest doubt that they were 
written at Liineburg, or at least under the direct influence 
of Bohm. One series is based on the melody " Christ, der 
du bist der helle Tag" " Christ, Thou that art the star 
of day," the other on " O Gott, du frommer Gott " " O God, 
Thou righteous God." ** Here, in fact, there is an agreement 
of style such as never recurs, in spite of the various 
influences from other quarters that can be proved to have 
acted on Bach. Without knowing a note of Bohm's writing 
we might, from these variations, become acquainted with his 
chorale style, if Sebastian's bright eye did not sparkle now 
and then through the mask, and if a certain heaviness were 
not perceptible in its bearing. Bohm neyer harmonised a 
chorale melody so solidly almost clumsily as his imitator 
has done ; as, for instance, the first and fifth notes of the 
initial line of the first chorale, which fall on the unaccented 
part of the bar, are weighted with a massive six-part harmony 
while between these notes it is in four parts. This, and much 
else, has under any circumstances a bad effect and is taste- 
less, even if it is supposed to be played on the harpsichord. 
But in general we can but wonder at the astonishing power of 
assimilation which deals with the contradictory forms origi- 
nating in his own mind, and in that of others, with as much 
facility as if they were all spontaneous. Such a phenomenon 
in a man whose individuality afterwards stood forth in the 

48 These are published in the collected edition of Bach's instrumental works 
brought out by C. F. Peters, Series V M Cah. 5 (Vol. 244), Part II., Nos. i and 2 
(quoting from the thematic catalogue of 1867). A third group of partitas on the 
chorale " Herr Christ, der ein'ge Gottssohn " " Lord Christ, God's only Son " 
is to be found with many other of Bach's chorales in a volume formerly 
belonging to Joh. Ludw. Krebs, now in the possession of Herr Roitzsch of 
Leipzig ; it is not yet published. Bach's name is not expressly given. I never- 
theless regard him as the author of these seven partitas, which must have been 
composed about the same time as the others. That they w^-e written by Bach 
at Arnstadt is a mere arbitrary guess of Forkel's (see p. 60 of the first edition), 
who possessed them merely in an old MS. copy. No autograph of them has 
as yet come to light. An old MS., containing partitas on " Ach, was soil ich 
Sunder machen," and bearing the name of Seb. Bach, was, at my suggestion, 
bought some years since for the Royal Library at Berlin. There is no reason 
to doubt their genuineness, but their character is so similar to that of the other 
two partita works that I cannot think it necessary to describe them in detail. 

P 2 


strongest conceivable contrast to his time, rising before us 
as if hewn out of rock, could only be possible during extreme 
youth. Still, it affords us a standard for estimating the way 
in which Bach trained himself, and absorbed into himself 
everything of value that he met with on his way. This 
mode of energy can be traced in his life, at least up to 
the middle of his twentieth year. The reader is in a position 
to compare for himself after reading the foregoing account of 
Bdhm's mode of treatment. He will at once find, in the 
second partita of each series, the most striking parallel to 
that spinning out of the motives of which Bohm must be 
considered the inventor. A highly remarkable thematic 
development appears in the four first notes of the fourth line 
of the first chorale 

which is worked upon through seven bars in Beethoven's 
manner, and in the same way in the other variations also. 
Bohm's other characteristics are also to be found in this 
work of Bach's. The chorale opens simply, in the way 
which he so often affects, but soon is played round in 
various ways, returning, however, again and again to 
certain fundamental figures ; then it is wholly dispersed in 
running passages in the manner of clavier variations; the 
lines are brought in, one in the upper part and another in 
the lower, different principles being mixed in their treat- 
ment; changes of time are introduced, after the model of 
the northern masters, and various effects of sound by means 
of changes of the manuals all this we find here, though in 
the riper works of the great master it all disappeared again, 
almost to the last trace, so far as outward form was con- 
cerned. But a single instance will suffice to show the way in 
which these influences continued to affect his mental bias. 
Together with*these characteristics of Bohm, Bach had also 
acquired the use of the basso ostinato, just now mentioned. We 
need only look at the beginning of the second partita on 
" O Gott, du frommer Gott" 

(Left hand only.) 


of which it may be said, incidentally, that only the four first 
notes of the melody are to be heard, then the bass is repeated, 
and not till then does the whole line come in, exactly 
as in the chorale by Bohm, previously quoted. We never 
again meet with this form in any of his later master- 
pieces. But if we study the magnificent work on " Wir 
glauben all an einen Gott," which appeared nearly forty years 
after in the third part of the Clavieriibung (Vol. I.), 46 we 
find an independent bass, having no internal connection 
with the melody, repeated six times in the course of the 
piece after proper pauses. Here is the highest development 
and glorification of this particular form, and it must be con- 
sidered as an inestimable evidence of the constant progress 
and unity of Bach's mental growth. He never even entered 
on any path which he subsequently was forced to admit was 
a wrong one, and to quit or return. The young sapling 
never struck root in barren pebbles or unyielding rock. The 
forces he drank in from every source permeated him with 
vigour so long as he continued to create. 

As I have said, however, these partitas are not to be 
attributed to mere imitativeness. More than once the 
player feels himself touched by the characteristic spirit of 
Bach, of which the intensity and glow can always be at 
once recognised by any one who has once truly felt them. 
Such passages are more easy to detect by their direct effect 
than to describe circumstantially in words ; still, not to deal 
merely with generalities, I would direct attention to the last 
partita of the first series, and to the eighth of the second, 
with their ingeniously worked-out chromatic motives. 
Throughout, indeed, in spite of their reliance on an outside 
model, these chorale variations bear witness to a quite extra- 
ordinary talent. They are by a youth of sixteen or seven- 
teen, and what natural beauty they display ! what freedom, 
nay, mastery of the combination of parts ! not a trace of the 
vacillating beginner feeling his way. He goes forward on his 
road with instinctive certainty; and though here and there a 
detail may displease us, the grand whole shows the born artist. 

* B.-G., III., p. 212 (1853). P., S. V., Cah. 7 (Vol. 246), No. 60. 


The fitness for the clavier which we find in these partitas 
renders the absence of an obbligato pedal part, nay, of a 
pedal at all, less conspicuous. We certainly find in the last 
partita in " Christ, der du bist der helle Tag," a pedal- 
part marked ad libitum; but this mars the beauty of the 
piece, at least if it is played so on the organ. The pedal of 
a harpsichord has less duration of sound, and would not so 
much conceal the succession of semiquavers in the left hand. 
In fact, in a whole series of Bach's compositions, we find 
the pedal is only introduced very incidentally, while they 
are, on the whole, performed only manualiter. This mode 
of procedure always indicates an early origin, for at 
the height of his powers Bach allowed himself no such 
neglect of means of effect. Still, we shall presently be able 
to point out further and more subtle distinctions in this 

Here it only may serve to introduce another work of Bach's 
which is equally penetrated through and through by Bohm's 
method, and which must have been written at the same time 
as the partitas. This is the organ chorale, " Christ lag in 
Todesbanden," set for two manuals. 47 Again, the left hand 
alone begins with the frequently mentioned bass passage ; 
the melody is then played on the Hauptwerk with more power- 
ful stops, and extended in the first four lines by almost 
too elaborate ornamentation. The introductory bass passage 
serves as material for both interludes and counterpoint to the 
first two lines. For the two next the harmonies are indepen- 
dent, and the interlude to each composed after Pachelbel's 
manner ; then the treatment becomes more and more unfet- 
tered and fantastic, quite in Bohm's taste. From time to time 
the semiquaver movement gives way to triplets of quavers ; 
then motives are thrown in on both manuals. We can no 
longer tell whether the subject is in two, three, or four parts till 
the last line appears, repeated three times in different places, 
and closing in calm chorale beats. The relative merit of this 
composition, which consists of seventy-seven bars, is much less 
than that of the partitas, where it is true the variation form 

" P., S. V., C. 6 (Vol. 245), No. 15. 


forbids those wholly unlimited amplifications which indeed 
form too glaring a contrast to the essence of the chorale, in 
spite of the cleverness which Bohm and Bach may have ex- 
pended on them. But its purely technical interest is greater, 
both on account of the extraordinary skill and facility which 
predominate in it, and for the degree of executive agility 
which it presupposes. The pedal comes in only in the last 
seven bars first, to bring out the last line of the melody, and 
then to hold a few fundamental notes. It is self-evident that 
a peculiar closing effect is intended to be produced. Indeed, 
it is tolerably manifest, from one single note, that the com- 
position is intended for a harpsichord and not for an actual 
organ. In the final bar the right hand crosses the left at 
the last crotchet, and strikes the low E, although the pedal 
has been holding the same note all through the bar. On the 
organ this would be aimless, but on the harpsichord the note 
would have already died out before the fourth crotchet, and 
as it was indispensable to support the closing chord by a 
repetition of it, this is effected by the right hand. Generally 
composers may have attempted to represent the organ pedal 
on this instrument by a repetition of the note, and have 
contented themselves with this ineffectual suggestion of their 
intention, for it could only serve at a pinch in the place of 
the organ pedal. And we, in our treatment of the pianoforte, 
must still supply by imagination a great deal which is quite 
beyond its powers of presenting. The inference to be drawn 
from this is that Liineburg is most likely the birthplace of 
this arrangement. Bach had then no organ at his absolute 
disposal, and if he desired to hear and perform his own pro- 
ductions without hindrance, and complete, he was obliged 
to compose for the clavichord or harpsichord. 

It will easily be understood that he as yet made no par- 
ticular distinction between the organ and the harpsichord as 
a medium for his musical thoughts. It is certainly true 
that the two instruments have much in common, but when 
it is desired to bring out sequences of long-drawn sostenuto 
notes the harpsichord fails ; on the other hand, in frequent 
repetitions of the same chord, the flowing character of the 
organ, which allows of no staccato, is done violence to. 



This last consideration, at any rate, Bach did not always 
duly regard, and in this Bohm was not a good model ; for, 
unscrupulous as writers might be at that time as to the 
demarcations of various styles, there still was a certain 
limit-line which Bohm recklessly overstepped. There is a 
third arrangement of the chorale "Vater unser im Himmel- 
reich," by his hand, which would certainly be taken for a 
clavier piece were it not for the express instructions " Riick- 
positiv. Oberwerk piano, Pedal forte" The part which 
delivers the melody is overloaded with ornament ; the accom- 
paniment, for the most part, repeats the same chord again 
and again, is very rarely tied, and generally proceeds in this 

For example, the pedal begins as follows : 

To this Bach composed a pendant which, from its whole 
character, can only owe its existence to Bohm's influence, 
and which is so remarkable that the beginning at least must 
be inserted here : 

Erbarm dich mein, o Herre Gott. " Have mercy on me, Lord my God." 

Faulty as this is in style, we still cannot fail to discern in it 
great power of harmony and a deep sympathy with the 
feeling of the hymn note particularly bar six : and the whole 
piece bears the same stamp, though certain harsh harmonies 
undoubtedly occur. 48 

48 This composition, published in B.-G., Vol. . . . , is to be found in Krebs' 
Ore;an-Book, which also contains Reinken's chorale " Es ist gewisslich an der 


It is almost self-evident that the close artistic affinity 
between the mature and the rising composers must have 
been supplemented by friendly external relations. Hence 
we are justified in supposing that Bohm did not hinder Bach 
from using the organ in St. John's Church, and possibly he 
may have tried his youthful powers more often on that than 
on the organ in St. Michael's. Unfortunately it would seem 
to have been even worse than the latter, for it was replaced 
by a new one so early as 1705 , 49 Thus even in Liineburg 
the ill-luck began which pursued the greatest of German 
organists all his life through ; for he had always to do the 
best he could with small or bad organs, and never had a 
really fine instrument at his command for any length of time. 

This is all that it is possible to learn as to the musical 
features of Bach's three years' residence in Liineburg. 
Without supposing any intentional negligence on his part, 
his general studies must have fallen more and more into the 
background as compared with music. It was to music 
that he already owed his means of existence, and I have 
before mentioned how frequently his duties as a choir 
pupil encroached on his time as an academy pupil, a fact 
which can be established by other examples at that time. 
Added to this were the opportunities of employment which 
a lad of musical acquirements might otherwise find and, 
under pressure of necessity, make the best of. The subjects 
of instruction in St. Michael's School did not differ from those 
in the Ohrdruf Academy. In the first class, to which we may 
suppose Sebastian to have advanced by degrees, the cycle of 
Latin authors that were read was rather more extended. We 
find mention of selected odes of Horace, Virgil's Mneid, 
Terence, Curtius, and Cicero, with speeches, epistles, 
and philosophic essays. But besides the necessary Latin 
exercises, oral and written, Greek also was taught out of 
the New Testament, religion, logic, and arithmetic at 
any rate in the year 1695, and there is no reason for 
supposing that things were different from 1700 to 1703 . 60 

49 Gerber, N. L., I., under the word " Dropa." 
Junghans, op. cit., pp. 40. 41. 


If the scholars wished to acquire knowledge on other 
subjects they might obtain it from the tutors of the 
institution, of course for an honorarium ; but those who 
had to earn the means of keeping themselves there can 
hardly have had much to spend on this object. We may, 
however, assume that Bach, when he quitted Liineburg, 
must have completed at least a two years' course in the 
first class, for he was eighteen years old, and the university 
course was usually entered upon at an earlier age then than 
now. That he did not go to the university though Handel, 
Telemann, Stolzel, and so many of his favourite cousins did 
there might be strong external reasons for supposing ; but 
it is not so as regards internal reasons ; for musical studies 
were more compatible with a course of learning at the 
high schools at that time than they would be under the 
increased requirements of our day. It seems even to have 
grown to be a sort of custom and a good one that the 
youthful musician, if he aimed at higher flights, might not 
remain a total stranger to the lecture-rooms of the 
high schools; otherwise Johann Bahr, the Concertmeister 
of Weissenfels, could not seriously have raised the question 
as to whether a composer must necessarily have been a 
student. 51 But Sebastian was poor and had no choice, even 
if his desire was ever so great to enlarge the circle of his 
knowledge which, indeed, we have no means of knowing. 

Still, before we see him depart to struggle onwards, let us 
cast a hasty glance on the past. As so great an artist was 
living a member, too, of Bach's family as late as 1703, as 
Joh. Christoph Bach of Eisenach, it may seem surprising 
that no distinct influence over Sebastian is referred to him. 
Some slight trace of such an influence does certainly appear 
to exist, and must not remain unnoticed; only the uncertainty 
of the matter postpones it to this place. Three small chorale 

41 " Ob ein Componist necessario miisse studirt haben." Joh. Beerens 
A/MSoi//sche Discurse. Nuremberg, 1719 (nineteen years later than the death 
of the author), chap. XLI. The author, who writes his name as Bahr, Beehr, 
and Beer, had himself had an excellent general education, and gives it as his 
decision that, though it was not absolutely necessary, it was better that a com 
poser should have studied. 


fugues exist, under the name of Sebastian Bach, on the 
melodies "Nun ruhen alle Walder" " Now silence falls," 
" Herr Jesu Christ, dich zu uns wend " " Lord Jesu, turn 
Thy face on us," and " Herr Jesu Christ, meins Lebens 
Licht" "Lord Jesu, sun to light my path." 52 They have 
precisely the same character as the fugally treated chorale 
preludes by Joh. Christoph Bach, lately discussed, 58 and of 
the similar works by Johann Pachelbel. The second 
particularly, of which the melody was also worked out 
by the Eisenach master, has a complete resemblance. It 
is rather more flowing, and longer by three bars, but other- 
wise remarkably similar ; for instance, in the entrance of the 
subject at the beginning and the subsequent pedal-point on 
the dominant. If these little pieces are indeed Sebastian's, 
the conclusion is almost inevitable that they were written 
under the influence of his uncle, perhaps even of Pachelbel. 
It must further be inferred that they are works of his boy- 
hood, before the Liineburg period even, which would account 
for their complete insignificance. Consequently we can trace 
back his impulse towards independent creation to his very 
earliest years, and this result is at least as interesting as the 
proof of any direct influence from Joh. Christoph, which in the 
natural course of things may be taken for granted, but can 
hardly be regarded as of great consequence to so young a lad, 
particularly as it displays itself in a branch of music to 
which the chief powers of the elder master were never 
directed. If we possessed any choral compositions by 
Sebastian which suggested his influence, that would be of 
real importance. But this is not the case at the present 
time, and it is very doubtful whether any such works ever 
existed, when we consider the very different path which the 
nephew struck out for himself. 

A further supplement to the stage of his life that we have 

82 Published by Fr. Commer : Musica Sacra, I., 1-3. He obtained them in 
1839 from A. W. Bach, of Berlin, who had had them copied from a MS. by 
Bach, in the collection of the Counts von Voss-Buch. This entire collection 
subsequently passed into the Royal Library ; but the chorales in question are 
no longer in it. 

* 8 See ante, p. 105. 


gone through consists in mentioning a clavier fugue in E 
minor, which also deserves to be called a youthful or boyish 
work, in the strictest sense of the term. Since a few fugues 
by Sebastian exist of the year 1704, this estimate is not too 
severe. The piece betrays its early origin, not only by the 
singular stiffness of the themes, but by the anxious per- 
tinacity with which the same counterpoint hangs on to the 
heels of the main subject ; the persistent clinging to the 
principal key through no less than fourteen consecutive 
entrances of the theme, the almost total absence of all con- 
necting subjects, and, finally, by a surprisingly unplayable 
character, the form not being as yet adapted to the technique 
of the clavier. Of all Bach's fugues that are known to me 
this is the most immature, and can hardly have been com- 
posed anywhere later than in Ohrdruf. By the time he 
quitted Liineburg he had at any rate gone far beyond so low 
a standard in this form of art. 



IN former times Bach's grandfather had had an appoint- 
ment at the Court of Duke William IV., at Weimar. 
This, however, can hardly have been the cause of his 
grandson's being invited to the same town. Other ties must 
have existed, of which we know nothing, but which, of 
course, would easily have been formed from Eisenach or 
Arnstadt. Sebastian received the appointment to be " Hof- 
musicus," one of the Court performers, not at the Court 
of the reigning Duke Wilhelm Ernst, but to Johann Ernst, 
his younger brother, who therefore must have had a musical 
establishment of his own, as he certainly had his Court 
painter. 54 This leads us to infer that he took an eager 
interest in all art, and sets the young artist's appointment 

54 That it was Job. Ernst who took Sebastian Bach into his service is 
expressly stated in the genealogy (see in Book I., chap. I., what is said regarding 
Nik. Eph. Bach). Further evidence is found in the close relation in which the 
musician stood to this Duke's son, Ernst August, although he did not succeed 
to the government till long after Bach had left Weimat, 


in a pleasing light. For it was obviously a quite different 
thing to be a member of one of those official bands, which 
were often kept up only for state, and were in consequence 
frequently made to subserve all sorts of utilitarian ends, and 
to belong to a body which had been called into existence by 
a true love of the art. On the other hand we should be 
mistaken in our view of the state of things in those petty 
Courts if we concluded that Sebastian had nothing whatever 
to do with the Court band proper. It is, indeed, quite certain 
that though he stood in the position of personal servant 
to Johann Ernst, he was made of use in the Court band. 
His place was that of violin-player, and the inference is 
plain that if he was invited from Luneburg to take this place 
in such a band, his proficiency cannot have been incon- 
siderable. At the same time, as it is quite certain that all 
his training had hitherto been directed chiefly to organ and 
clavier playing, it is evident that he accepted this post at 
Weimar for outside reasons, namely, for a living. Thus, in j 
his own particular line, he made no immediate progress by ! 
this first step into the world of art ; however, he at any 
rate made acquaintance there with a mass of instrumental 
music, particularly with Italian works, which were much 
in favour at the Court of Weimar, as we shall see later. 
There also lived there at that time a violin-player of no 
mean attainments, Johann Paul Westhoff, the Duke's 
private musician and secretary, a man who, besides, may 
have been very attractive from his great experience of 
the world and general culture. 55 There, too, was the 
famous organist, Johann Effler, who, as was said in a 
former place, had been Michael Bach's predecessor at 
Gehren ; and in fact later evidence would prove, if it were 
needed, that in Weimar Sebastian was not out of reach of 
church music. To the musical side of his life these brought 
him much and various incitement, and the length of his 
residence there exactly sufficed for him to yield to it so far as 
at the time he can have thought serviceable. In a few 
months new prospects were already opened to him. 56 

55 Walther, Lexicon. Westhoff died in 1705. 56 See Appendix A, No. 9. 


Towards the close of the previous century the Municipality 
of Arnstadt had rebuilt one of their churches, which had been 
destroyed by fire in 1581, and had consecrated it in 1683 
under the name of the New Church. 67 Only an organ was 
lacking ; but the new sanctuary lay so near the hearts of the 
inhabitants that the Consistory could show soon after, that a 
sum of 800 gulden had been collected for it, by contributions 
from all sides, and would still increase to 1,100 gulden. A 
rich citizen, in 1699, bequeathed 800 gulden more, and now 
they could take steps for the construction of a really worthy 
and complete organ. An inefficient builder was passed over, 
though a native of the town, and Johann Friedrich Wender, 
of Miihlhausen, was chosen, who constructed and erected the 
organ between Whitsuntide and the winter of 1701. 58 Wender 
had built many organs in Thuringia, and had so made a name ; 
but he was not a thorough workman. In a very short time 
it was shown that four pipes were wanting to the work. 
Repairs were already needed in 1710, and Wender effected 
these so carelessly that Ernst Bach, the organist at that 
time, was forced to explain that the organ required complete 
restoration to preserve it from becoming quite unserviceable. 
The same experience was gone through with regard to the 
organ at the Church of St. Blasius at Muhlhausen, which 
Wender had also built, and in which there was always some- 
thing to mend. 

Still, the great instrument was for the time complete, 
and the pride of the municipality. An organist of equal 
merit and renown was now the desideratum, but not to be 
found at once. A son-in-law of Christoph Herthum's (the 
often-mentioned son-in-law and successor of Heinrich Bach) 
knew how to manage an organ tolerably, and, perhaps at 
Herthum's application perhaps, too, because at the moment 
there was no one else the place was given to him. His 
name was Andreas Borner. He took up his appointment at 

* r Olearius, Historia Arnstadiensis, pp. 52, 55. 

58 The testamentary benefactor was Joh. Wilh. Magen, died May xi, 1699. 
Documents referring to this organ, of July i, 1699, ex ' st > n ^ c archives at Son. 


the New Year, and was to receive thirty gulden a year and 
three measures of corn. These were deducted from his 
father-in-law's income, who, to balance the account, deputed 
to Borner the duty of performing the early Sunday service 
at the Church of the Holy Virgin. Borner had also to 
declare himself willing to rush off to the Franciscan Church 
as soon as his own morning service was over, whenever the 
over-busy Herthum was called away at that hour by his 
duties in the castle chapel. Not much was spent on the 
man, and very little was intrusted to him. When he had 
played in the New Church he was required always to restore 
the key of the organ-stairs to Burgomaster Feldhaus, who 
had the management of the organ and all that related 
to it. 

This was the state of affairs till the summer of the follow- 
ing year. Meanwhile Sebastian Bach had gone to Weimar, 
and it may easily be imagined that, once there, he soon pro- 
posed to himself the pleasure of visiting Arnstadt, the old 
meeting-place of all his family, and of seeing his relations 
still living there. He went, and he played the organ, and 
the Consistory saw that this was the man they wanted. 
Small ceremony was made with Borner ; he simply had to 
quit the field. " But, for the prevention of any unpleasant 
collisions," he had a new place made for him as Organist 
at matins, and deputy at morning service in the Fran- 
ciscan Church, and he was allowed to keep his salary, 
so that in general all was on its old footing. But they 
thought themselves bound to special efforts on behalf of the 
young artist of eighteen ; he had made a deep impression on 
the people. As the means of the Church itself were very 
limited, contributions were raised from three different sources, 
and the salary was fixed at the handsome sum of eighty-four 
gulden, six groschen (= seventy-three thalers, eighteen 
groschen), which was, in fact, considerable in comparison 
with the salaries of his fellow-officials. He then went 
through a solemn installation, and received a somewhat 
sweeping exhortation to "industry and fidelity to his calling," 
and to all that " might become an honourable servant and 
organist before God, the worshipful authorities, and his 


superiors " ; and to all this he pledged himself on August 
14, 1703, by joining hands. 59 

Sebastian must have been quite delighted with such a 
flattering reception into his new post in the pretty little 
town, so full of family memories. His compulsory duties 
also were comparatively few, and ample leisure was left him 
for his own studies and creations. No burdensome educa- 
tional duties claimed his energies, no utterly heterogeneous 
tasks of a subsidiary kind such, for instance, as were 
allotted to the kitchen-clerk Herthum could disturb the 
collectedness of his mind. His post only required his attend- 
ance three times a week on Sunday mornings from eight to 
ten, on Thursdays from seven to nine a.m., and on Mondaysfor 
one church service. 60 With what joy must he have felt himself 
for the first time in an independent position, so well adapted 
to his inclinations, and have heard the tones of the new 
organ resounding under his own hands through the height 
and breadth of the vast church. The organ was splendidly 
constructed, all the diapasons being of seven-ounce tin, the 
gedackt also being of metal, instead of wood, as was more 
usual. The character of the " Brust-positiv" must, indeed, 
have been somewhat shrill, owing to the preponderance of four- 
foot stops; and it was only by using all the stops in combi- 
nation that even a moderately good effect could be produced; 
nor was there on the pedals any deep stop of moderate 
strength, still the "Hauptwerk" was well arranged. The 
entire specification was as follows: 

Oberwerk (Upper Manual). 

1. Principal (i.e., diapason) 8ft. 

2. Viola da gamba . . 8 ft. 

3. Quintaton . . .. 16 ft. 

4. Gedackt .. ..8ft. 

5. Quint . . . . 6 ft. 5- 

6. Octave .. ..4ft. 

7. Mixture .. 4 ranks. 

8. Gemshorn . . 8 ft. 

9. Cymbal i ft. 2 ranks. 

10. Trumpet . . . . 8 ft. 

11. Tremulant.. . 

12. Cymbelstern 

59 All these details are from documents in the archives at Sondershausen. To 
form a just estimate of this salary, it must be remembered that Joh. Ernst Bach, 
Sebastian's successor, received only forty gulden, and even in the year 1728, 
as Organist to the Franciscan church of the Holy Virgin, had no more than 
seventy-seven gulden. 

60 Olearius, p. 57. 


Brust-positiv (Choir). 

1. Principal .. .. 4 ft. 

2. Lieblich gedackt . . 8 ft. 

3. Spitz flute . . 4 ft. 

4. Quint . . . . 3 ft. 

5. Sesquialtera 

6. Nachthorn . . 4 ft. 

7. Mixture . . i ft. 2 ranks. 

Pedal Organ. 

1. Principal 

2. Sub-bass 

3. Posaune 

4. Flute 

5. Cornet 


4 ft. 


Coupler for the manuals and pedals. 
Two bellows, 8 ft. by 4 ft. 

The organ still existed until i863. 61 

Next to the Franciscan or Upper Church, the New Church 
occupied the second place. It had been originally built as 
a chapel-of-ease to the former, because the Liebfrauen- 
kirche was found to be inadequate to the enlarged demands, 
and there was no room for the large number of Sunday 

Since Sebastian, in spite of his youth, had taken his place 
as a musician of many-sided learning, who, moreover, had 
organised practices of choral music in Liineburg, the Con- 
sistory handed over to him the tuition of a small school-choir, 
which served, as it were, for the stepping-stone to the larger 
choir that sang in the Upper Church ; and with the latter 
were amalgamated, according to the old Thuringian custom, 
the "Adjuvanten," or music-loving amateurs of the town. 
The actual direction, which in the main choir was the task 
of the cantor, was here the duty of the prefect of the school- 
choir. Bach had only to rehearse them, to keep the whole 
together, and to accompany them on the organ. It may be 
supposed that with these opportunities he would bring his 
own compositions to a hearing. 62 Finally, it may be assumed 
with certainty that his violin-playing was occasionally taken 
advantage of for the Count's band ; although historical 
testimony is wanting, Sebastian could no more have escaped 
these demands than could Michael Bach in his day, who must 
have come in from Gehren expressly on stated occasions. 

81 Then a new and very fine one was erected in its place, as a memorial to 
Sebastian Bach ; as many of the old stops, however, as could be used were 
retained. The originator of this worthy project, to which the friends of Bach's 
art, from far and near, contributed, was the present Organist, Herr H. B. Stade 
who devoted himself to managing the matter. The work is now complete. 

82 Evidence of this will appear in the course of the narrative. 



Since the band consisted chiefly of native musicians, pro- 
fessional or amateur, it would have been foolish to leave 
such a remarkable talent unused. 

In organ-playing, Sebastian found no one who could teach 
him anything, much less compete with him. Herthum can 
only have prosecuted his music by the way, since his post 
at Court was engrossing and laborious, as may be proved 
even now by documentary evidence. Johann Ernst Bach 
quickly lost, in the misery of his domestic circumstances, 
what he had brought home fresh from his journeys to Ham- 
burg and Frankfort. Sebastian could not learn anything 
more of importance from him, although the cousins certainly 
kept up a close friendship. A somewhat greater variety 
prevailed in other musical matters. The busy life of a gifted 
artist, Adam Drese, had come to an end some years before. 
His place had been filled by Paul Gleitsmann, a pupil of 
the learned Johann Bahr, of Weissenfels. He had already 
been in the Count's service as groom-of-the-chambers and 
musician. He was a skilled performer on the violin, the 
viol di gamba, and the lute ; and, judging from the scanty 
evidence we possess, he seems to have been a cultivated and 
well-meaning man. 63 He certainly was the man in whom 
Sebastian could most readily find intelligent sympathy, the 
only one, perhaps, of the whole band. The Rector of the 
Arnstadt Lyceum, the learned and energetic Johann Fried- 
rich Treiber, was a great lover of music ; and, besides his 
thorough and wide-spread theoretical knowledge, he possessed 
practical musical ability, and perhaps had some experience 
as a composer. 64 His son, Johann Philipp, an imaginative 
genius, with rare knowledge in all the provinces of the 
learning of the time, showed remarkable talent for poetry 
and music, and learned composition under Drese. He had 
studied at Jena, first philosophy, theology, and medicine, and 
then jurisprudence: he had obtained the degrees of Master 
and Doctor, and delivered lectures. His freethinking views 
on religion compelled him to quit Jena. He then lived for 

* He is noticed in Walther's Lexicon. 

64 For further details, see Gerber, N. L., Vol. IV., col. 384. 


a few years in the country, pursuing his scientific labours, 
but in consequence of these was again prosecuted for atheism, 
and once even imprisoned for six months in Gotha. After 
his release he lived with his father in Arnstadt during the 
years 1704-6. He was forced by disputes with the clergy of 
that place to go to Erfurt, where he became a Catholic, and 
obtained high honour as professor of jurisprudence. He died 
in 1727, in his fifty-third year. While in Arnstadt, in 1704, he 
published a work, Der accurate Organist im General-Basse, 
in which he treated the bass part of only two chorales with 
every possible variety of harmonies ; he had previously 
published in Jena a work to demonstrate the possibility of 
employing every variety of chords, keys, and time in a 
single air, and worked out a composition of his own as 
an example. 65 Later on, in Erfurt, he wrote a " Grand 
Serenade," in honour of the rector of the academy, and 
conducted the performance himself. 66 A work which was 
brought out in May, 1705, at Arnstadt, seems to have been 
the joint production of both the Treibers. It was a "Sing- 
spiel" or operetta, according to the title, and was called " Die 
Klugheit der Obrigkeit in Anordnung des Bierbrauens" 
"The wisdom of the authorities in the management of 
brewing." 67 The plan is that of the biblical school-plays of 
the seventeenth century, or the sacred musical dramas of 
Dedekind ; i.e., the dialogue consists of Alexandrines, inter- 
spersed with songs of several verses and short recitatives, 
and as many persons as possible (in this instance no less 
than thirty) are introduced. It is, of course, pervaded with 
the plain, rough character of the burgher's life, and several 
of the persons speak in the Thuringian dialect of Arnstadt. 
The performance of this and other dramatic productions 
took place in the Count's theatre. Anton Giinther did 

65 This book, Sonderbare Invention : Eine Arie in einer einzigen Melodey 
aus alien Tonen und Accorden auch jederley Tacten zu componiren, &c., 
appeared, according to Walther, in 1702. The copy in the Konigsberg Library 
is numbered 1,703 in Jos. Muller's catalogue. I have not seen it. 

66 Hesse, Verzeichniss Schwarzburgischer Gelehrten, Stuck 18. Rudol- 
Stadt, 1827. Gerber, Vol. II., col. 673. Adlung, Anl. zur Mus. Gel., p. 116. 

67 See Appendix A, No. 10. 

Q 2 


not maintain any dramatic or musical company ; what- 
ever of this kind was done at Arnstadt, at that time, was 
due for the most part to the exertions of the citizens. The 
Count, according to an engagement which he had entered 
into with Wentzing, one of his privy councillors, and the 
Capellmeister Drese, had bound himself to found and main- 
tain a theatre, with the necessary appliances ; to put the 
band at their disposal, to provide for the lighting, and to 
supply the provisions required for the stage banquets. On 
the other hand they were bound to find the wardrobe, 
and to play before the Count whenever he liked, pro- 
vided that fourteen days' notice was given, and to allow 
free entrance to the Count's suite. This arrangement dif- 
fered materially from all the other institutions of the court, 
and approximated closely to the German opera at Ham- 
burg, in that every one "who wanted to see these Actioncs" 
could obtain admission " on payment of a certain price." 
By this means the popular interest was not overlooked. 
This is proved by the " Beer " operetta, which was followed 
by a similar " Singspiel " on July 6, I7O8, 68 and still more 
by the actors, some of whom were scholars, and some 
artisans of Arnstadt. Similar performances took place in 
other small capitals of Thuringia. Even in Weimar the 
stern Wilhelm Ernst had an "opera-house," and even court 
actors. 69 It was a good thing that not many princes had 
the means of organising such an entertainment wholly with- 
out help from the people, or they would gladly have done so. 
The organisation of the Arnstadt theatre was imitated from 

68 At this period all the boys in the first class of the school took part in such 
performances (Acts in the Raths-Archivs at Arnstadt). The chief part of the 
theatre contract and a catalogue of the actors was given by K. Th. Pabst in the 
programme of the Arnstadt Gymnasium for 1846, p. 22. I have not been 
able to find the interesting original document itself, so must content myself wi'.h 

69 Operatic performances took place in Weimar from 1697 onwards. Some of 
the libretti are preserved in the Grand Ducal Library there ; also the MS. of a 
"Lustspiel" or "Vaudeville," called " Von einer Bauren-Tochter Mareien, Um 
welche zwey Freyer, ein alter und ein junger geworben " "Of a peasant-girl 
Maria, who had two suitors, an old and a young one," of which part was spoken 
in the Thuringian dialect. 


that of Brunswick, and the plan had been brought from thence 
by Anton Gunther's wife, Augusta Dorothea, daughter of 
Duke Anton Ulrich. She also had built the Augustenburg 
at Arnstadt, after the pattern of her father's Lustschloss 
(pleasure palace) of Salzdahlen, and instituted occasional 
musical performances in it. On August 23, 1700, she wel- 
comed her parents there with a cantata, the " Frohlockender 
Gotter-Streit " "The victorious battle of the gods," of 
which the poetry was written by a native of Weimar, with 
whom Sebastian Bach was subsequently to come into very 
close relations. 70 

This exhausted the musical resources of Arnstadt at that 
time, so far as can be ascertained. I have spoken of them, 
not because they may have exerted a determining influence on 
Bach, or in order to prove that they can have had any such 
result ; they were quite inefficient for any such effect on a 
nature so strongly cast and so energetically self-reliant in its 
working as his was. But a youth of twenty, just entering on 
life, must have come into contact with them as the days flew 
past, and so they might for the moment give his spirit some 
beneficial refreshment. More particularly the performance 
of the sportive popular singing may have been a real pleasure 
to his wholesome Thuringian nature. Thus it is not as 
bearing on the history of art, but simply from the bio- 
graphical point of view, that Bach's musical surroundings 
are here dealt with. 

Bach's connection with the choir which was established 
for the New Church must, ere long, have roused his desire 
to employ his talent for compositions for their use ; and this 
must have answered to the wishes of the Consistory. Some 
of these early attempts in the department of concerted 
church music he regarded many years later as worth re- 
modelling in Leipzig. It is to this idea of the master's that 
we owe the cantata for the first day of Easter, "Denndu 
wirst meine Seele nicht in der Holle lassen " " For Thou 

?0 Salomo Franck, Geist- und weltliche Poesien I., p. 302 ; cf., p. 306. The 
music was perhaps by a native of Brunswick- Wolfenbiittel. The Augusten. 
burg was afterwards pulled down. 


wilt not leave my soul in hell," which, as it now stands, 
rests on three different sections of the text which did not 
originally belong to each other. 71 It is easily observed that 
the greater part of it is set to a connected hymn in seven 
verses, beginning with the lines 

Auf, freue dich, Seele, du bist nun getrost, 
Dein Heiland der hat dich vom Sterben erlost. 
Es zaget die Holle, der Satan erliegt, 
Der Tod ist bezwungen, die Siinde besiegt. 
Trotz sprech ich euch alien, die ihr mich bekriegt. 

Up, soul ! and be joyful, thy comfort is near, 

Thy Saviour hath freed thee, no death need'st thou fear. 

Hell quakes at His coming, who crushes its pride. 

Death trembles in fetters, Sin cowers to hide. 

Peace be unto all who have fought on His side. 

The composer has used the first verse for an air for a 
soprano ; the second, third, and fourth 72 are set to an arioso 
for alto, tenor, and bass ; the fifth is a duet ; the sixth and 
seventh arioso again, with a closing air for four voices. This 
is exactly on the model of the older church cantatas. At 
that time, and until another form gained general acceptance 
in the second decade of the eighteenth century, songs 
divided into. verses were always set in those forms which 
had gradually grown up in course of the seventeenth century, 
woven in with Bible texts and chorales " to taste." These 
even often constituted the principal part, admitting only here 
and there an aria in several verses with the same music to 
each. Sometimes the text consisted solely of Bible words, or 
of a chorale treated in various ways. Recitative was as yet 
not used ; instead of it the arioso was employed, in which 
time was strictly observed, and the instrumental accompani- 
ment was carried on in persistent sympathy, without its falling, 
however, into a regular aria. Hence the recitative, " Mein 
Jesus ware todt," was most certainly first introduced at the 
time when the cantata was remodelled, as indeed is evident 
likewise from the free treatment of the rhymed lines a 

B.-G., II., NO. 15. 

f Bach composed only four lines of the fourth verse, leaving out the fifth. 


device as yet hardly used in sacred verse and very little 
known. The duet which follows, " Weichet, Furcht und 
Schrecken " "Vanish Dread and Terror!" is distinguished 
by the very different metrical form of the text, and as having 
no connection with the main text, while in its musical 
casting it bears the stamp of the earlier time. Since the 
contents of the work all bear on the Easter festival, it is 
probable that this piece was taken from another cantata 
composed possibly for the second day of Easter and sub- 
sequently combined with the recitative composed later for 
the purpose (and in which, indeed, Bach contrived to imitate 
his own youthful style in a very masterly way) into a more 
important Easter cantata in two parts. The following tenor 
solo, "Entsetzet euch nicht" "Oh! be not dismayed," 
probably also belonged to the second cantata, and there 
preceded the duet. It cannot have been placed imme- 
diately after the introductory number, if only because all 
poetic connection would then have been wanting. The 
whole is most completely welded together, if we suppose 
the soprano aria, " Auf, freue dich, Seele," to have imme- 
diately followed the introductory bass arioso, and that in 
the second cantata the duet, " Weichet, Furcht und 
Schrecken," came after the comforting words of the angel. 
In this way the proper relation between the Bible words 
and those of the hymn is established ; besides, it was the 
custom always to preface the verses by a single Bible text, 
never more. 78 

We may, with tolerable certainty, fix Easter, 1704, as 
the time when the original cantata was composed. 74 Its 
character, in details as well as in general, displays the 
close adhesion of a young composer to the works of the 
same kind by the masters of Central and Northern Ger- 
many, particularly the latter. This is easily accounted 
for by Bach's three years' residence in Liineburg, and the 
intercourse he kept up from thence with Hamburg. But a 
deeply seated feeling of innate affinity also drew him to- 
wards them, a feeling to which he, some years later, once 

* 8 See Appendix A, No. n. 74 See Appendix A, No. 12. 


again evidently yielded ; and we shall then have the oppor- 
tunity of doing fuller justice to the sacred musicians of the 
north, and of illustrating in detail the extent to which this, 
the earliest of his cantatas, was founded on them. Here, 
for the present, it only concerns us to form some general 
conception of its contents. The first number, in C major, 
is, as has been said, a Bible text set for a bass voice, " For 
Thou shalt not leave my soul in hell ; neither wilt Thou suffer 
Thy Holy One to see corruption " (Psalm xvi. n), and is 
introduced by a short sonata, in which three trumpets with 
drums and stringed instruments are employed antiphonally 
with the organ. After five bars adagio, where hardly 
anything is to be heard but broad isolated chords ac- 
centuated by fermatas, comes an allegro of three bars 
a kind of fanfare which leads on at once to the singing. 
The antiphonal dialogue is here repeated, but between the 
voice and the instruments. When the voice has sung a 
phrase arioso, it is answered by the violins or trumpets, 
or followed up by a short imitation on the instruments. 
In the old German aria the Ritornel, or instrumental re- 
frain, plays an important part, and not merely regularly 
at the end of each strophe, but between the lines of the 
verses. It was then transferred to the informal arioso, 
from which it was detached by Bach, who also raised both 
the arioso itself and the fully developed recitative to an in- 
dependent and definite position. The declamatory portions 
in the instance before us are somewhat stiff and ineffective ; 
even the treatment of the bass voice is hardly freer than with 
his predecessors, who often knew so little how to deal with 
it that they simply used it in unison with the fundamental 
bass, or made it move in thirds with it. The recitative 
follows, and then the duet for soprano and alto in A minor, 
accompanied only by the organ and violins ; a most pleasing 
little piece, which, though it certainly echoes the sentiment 
of the words in only one or two passing details, forms a 
contrast to the former arioso by its slender form, moving on 
its way unburdened by contrapuntal gravity. The form is 
that of the Italian da capo aria, which was just then begin- 
ning gradually and by stealth, as it were, to gain a footing. It 


also lies at the bottom of the following tenor solo, " Entsetzet 
euch nicht," which returns to the key of C major, and calls 
out the instruments once more; but here it has to accommo- 
date itself as well as it can to the arioso style. The melodic 
forms offer us, among many forms common to the period, a 
feature especially Bach's, at the words " den Gekreuzigten" 
"The Crucified," where the voice wanders sadly about 
among harmonies involved in a strict subject in four parts, 
that marches on as if it could be no other than it is. Among 
Bach's predecessors, under similar circumstances, this could 
not always be said. The contrasting passage, " Er ist aufer- 
standen und ist nicht hie" " He is not here, but is risen," 
is full of genuine youthful aspiration, and a still more 
significant fire nay, boyish daring is breathed into the 
closing aria for the soprano, " Auf, freue dich, Seele." The 
form again is quite simple ; the lines of the verse are sung 
one after another with very little repetition, so that the com- 
poser still clings for the most part to the type of the old 
sacred aria; still, since the first theme returns at the close, 
though briefly and almost as a ritornel, it points in this direc- 
tion to the Italian form of aria ; while, finally, the sameness 
of the phrase, which recurs again and again in higher posi- 
tions of key, with answering instrumental passages between, 
reminds us of the arioso. The piece is, indeed, a confused 
mixture of various elements of form, but attractive because 
it is natural and truly felt. We now come to another grand 
arioso, in which alto, tenor, and bass take part, usually singly, 
but sometimes together. Here all the extravagance of an 
ardent young genius has been allowed full play. The 
passage which represents the " raving " hounds of hell 
chases the alto in semiquaver passages, high and low, 
through storming octaves on the organ pedal, and the parts 
seem striving to outdo each other in defiant and scornful 
challenge to hell and death. The bass praises Christ, the 
Warrior, in a somewhat cut and dried fashion; and, although 
some attempt at completeness is made by repeating this 
part, the whole leaves an impression of incoherence. 

The second duet in G major, which follows, is also given 
to the soprano and alto, and shows, like the Luneburg 


chorale-partitas, with what uncommon rapidity Sebastian 
Bach developed his mastery in the art of independent and 
unforced part-writing. Two quite different motives are here 
employed side by side, and the greater portion of the duet 
is developed from this combination. The soprano sings 

If 2 * 

Ich jauch - 2e, ich la che, ich jauch - - ze mit Schall, 

while the alto begins only two crotchets later with 

Ihr kla - get mit Seuf - zen, ihr wei - net, 

(soprano, " I glory, I triumph, I glory with shouts " ; 
alto, " Ye moan and are sighing, lamenting"). The combi- 
nation allows of the double counterpoint on the octave, 
which is very fitly employed, and each time the violins take 
possession of both motives, the viol di gamba comes in 
with a third characteristic agitato part. But the quaver 
figure of the first motive is carried on through the whole 
piece, and keeps it firmly together in all its parts. To com- 
prehend Bach's talent and do full justice to his early 
maturity, we must always recollect that a flowing poly- 
phonic treatment was by no means the strong side of the 
German masters of that time, whose conquered ground only 
he could appropriate; but that, on the contrary, his own 
genius for construction must have helped him in this to 
quite an equal degree. Even if we chose to assume that in 
working through the cantata a second time he greatly im- 
proved the duet, which may very well be the case, still the 
file can only have been applied to details ; what is most 
wonderful in it he cannot possibly have added later, for it 
is the creative germ of the whole piece. How strikingly 
these two subjects express the contrast in the ideas of the 
texts need not be pointed out. Moreover, this chromatic pas- 
sage is always a favourite motive with Bach, which we shall 
shortly meet with again in other compositions by him, and 
which he clung to throughout his whole career. 

We now come to the final number. It is prefaced by the 
introductory sonata, very little altered ; then an aria in 


several parts gradually grows out of it (an aria, in the old 
sense of the word, meaning a subjectively religious hymn in 
verses), first given to two and two and then to four voices, but 
it is in no respect superior to what we are already accustomed 
to in the better composers of this kind of music. It is imme- 
diately followed by the chorale "Weil du vom Tod erstanden 
bist " " Since Thou art risen from the dead." The violins 
accompany the voices in repeated quavers, and only the first 
violin goes on independently, supplying a fifth part above the 
chorus ; after a few lines the trumpets and drums come in 
with a fanfare, and the close works off into free imitation in 
all the parts. This all lacks originality, and is elaborated on 
well-known models. 

In the earlier part of his stay at Arnstadt Bach may have 
made many other attempts in the department of church 
music, but I have not yet succeeded in bringing to light 
any further evidence of his industry. So much, however, is 
certain, as that while there his principal efforts were directed 
to instrumental music, and that he continued to cultivate his 
talents in this direction by technical studies and practice in 
composition, as well as by thorough analysis of the best works 
of the period. It was at Arnstadt that "he really showed the 
first-fruits of his industry in the art of organ-playing and in 
composition, which he had in great measure learnt only from 
the study of the works of the most famous composers of 
the time, and from his own reflections on them." So says 
Mizler's Necrology. We will endeavour to make ourselves 
acquainted with some of these first-fruits. 

Johann Jakob, the second of Sebastian's surviving elder 
brothers, had served his apprenticeship as a town-musician 
at Eisenach, and then, probably, set forth on his travels " to 
inquire what manner of music he might find in other places," 
as used then to be said. In 1704 he may have been in 
Poland, then allied with the Elector of Saxony, just when 
Charles XII. of Sweden had penetrated so far in his adven- 
turous and victorious progress. Spell-bound by the magic of 
romance which surrounded the young hero, and tempted 
by advantageous conditions so we may fancy at the age of 
two-and-twenty he made up his mind to enter the Swedish 


Guard as oboe-player. 76 He returned home once more, 
expressly to take leave of his family and friends; and it must 
have been on that occasion that Sebastian composed a piece 
for him, which was to serve him as a remembrance of his 
brother when at a distance. The form was evidently sug- 
gested by the personal situation ; in five short movements 
he represented the various moods and scenes which preceded 
and were occasioned hy his brother's impending departure. 
To these he appended a fugue, and combined the whole 
under the title " Capriccio sopra la lontananza del suo fra- 
tello dilettissimo " " Capriccio on the absence (departure) 
of a beloved brother." 78 

This little work is so unique in the whole mass of Bach's 
compositions that it could hardly be accounted for, even by 
the occasion above mentioned, if we could not without any 
difficulty quote a model. This model was presented by 
Johann Kuhnau's six sonatas on Biblical narratives, which 
had appeared four years before, and, being the work of so 
gifted and learned a master, had naturally attracted much 
attention. 77 In it six incidents derived from the Old Testa- 
ment were illustrated by a series of tone pictures, an experi- 
ment in composition in which, however, Kuhnau did not 
stand alone at that time. Mattheson, Kuhnau's younger 
contemporary, tells us and it has been frequently 
repeated from him that Froberger could depict whole 
histories on the clavier, "giving a representation of the 
persons present and taking part in it, with all their natural 
characters"; he also states that he was in possession of a 
Suite by the same composer, " in which the passage across 
the Rhine of the Count von Thurn, and the danger he was 
exposed to from the river, is most clearly set before our eyes 

75 According to the genealogy. 

78 No autograph of this is known; hence it must remain uncertain whether 
the Italian title was given by Bach himself. However, even at his earliest period, 
he was fond of using Italian designations. It is contained in Vol. 208 (No. g) 
of Peters' edition. 

77 Musicalische Vorstellung | Einiger | Biblischer Historien, | In 6 Sonaten, 
| Auff dem Claviere zu spielen, | Allen Liebhabern zum Vergniigen | versuchet 
| von Johann Kuhnauen. | Leipzig, | Gedruckt bei Immanuel Tietzen \ 
Anno M.D.CC. 


and ears in twenty-six little pieces." 78 Allied to this, though 
not identical, is the disposition shown by certain French 
composers, as Couperin and Gaspard de Roux, to represent 
distinct types of character in their clavier pieces. It would, 
perhaps, be safe to assert that at all times and so long as 
independent instrumental music exists, attempts will be 
made, with more or less success, to dramatise definite 
sentiments figuratively illustrated, by musical forms, which 
can only reflect the world of general emotion. Now the first 
and universally typical musical instrument is the human 
voice, which can hardly be conceived of apart from articulate 
utterance. Hence, it is quite intelligible that Sebastian, in 
his nineteenth year, carried away by his genius and technical 
skill, should for once have allowed himself to be tempted 
into a path which was never fitted for spirits of his mould. 
For us it is a particularly happy circumstance, since it 
enables us to perceive which otherwise we could hardly 
have done that Kuhnau as well as so many others had 
some influence on Bach ; and, indeed, much of various kinds 
was to be learnt from him. 

Johann Kuhnau was born in 1667 at Geysing in the Erz- 
gebirge. From 1684 he was Organist of the Thorn as- Kirche 
at Leipzig; from 1701 cantor also in the Thomasschule. 
He died there in 1722, and Bach, whom he had known 
personally so early as when he was at Weimar, succeeded 
him in his office. His talent was marked by a versatility 
absolutely phenomenal ; he had acquired considerable know- 
ledge in languages, mathematics, and jurisprudence, and was 
an ingenious writer on musical subjects. In the history of 
practical music he made himself famous by being the first to 
transfer the chamber sonata, with its several movements, to 
the clavier. The first attempt of this kind appeared as the 
appendix to the second part of his " New Clavier Exercises," 
in i695, 79 and consists of a prelude with a fugue in B flat 

Mattheson, Der vollkommene Capellmeister, p. 130, 72. 
79 Neue Clavieriibung. The first part he had published in 1689, but on 
the appearance of the second he had a new title engraved. The first part con- 
tains seven suites, " Partien," in major keys ; the second, seven in minor keys, 
besides the said sonata. 


major, an adagio in E flat major, with an allegro in B flat 
major joined on to it worked out in imitation, and a repetition 
of the two first movements. He evidently found it approved, 
for a year after he brought out a new work containing seven 
such sonatas, under the title Fresh Fruits for the Clavier 
(Frische Clavierfriichte). Irrespective of this novelty, 
Kuhnau had a distinctly creative genius for clavier music, 
while the few organ chorales that we have by him seem 
insignificant ; his church cantatas must be spoken of in 
another place. In the treatment of the fugue, particularly 
of the double fugue, he was regarded as a model by the most 
prominent theoretical musicians of the middle of the eight- 
eenth century, such as Mattheson and Marpurg; and deserves 
to be considered so still, if lucidity and elegance are looked 
for rather than richness and depth. While comparable to 
Pachelbel in the full and expressive form of his themes, he 
was led to greater freedom and rapidity by the character of 
the instrument for which he wrote. 

The Biblische Historien also contain some capital fugues, 
and are throughout so interesting to the musician that 
they still must give pleasure to every intelligent player, 
Much of what seems odd to us, and which gives a peculiar 
flavour to our enjoyment, was certainly not planned to that 
end by the composer. He set about his task quite gravely. 
The biblical subject of itself forbade all joking. At most 
might he permit himself a cheerful and whimsical humour 
in the sonata on Jacob's marriage. In the others the 
deepest earnestness is expressed, and, when once we have 
got over the hybrid character of the music, is really impres- 
sive. This is the case in the piece " Saul cured by David, by 
means of music " " der von David vermittelst der Musik 
curirte Saul," to which the author has given us the following 
argument : " Thus this sonata represents ist. Saul's melan- 
choly and madness. 2nd. David's refreshing harp-playing; 
and 3rd. The King's mind restored to peace." It begins in 
the mournful key of G minor, revelling in ingeniously com- 
bined and melancholy harmonies. In spite of the recitative- 
like phrases which here assert themselves, all is connected 
in sound and form, Saul's sudden burst of madness is 



certainly most energetically expressed by an involved de- 
scending passage of demi-semiquavers to a long-held chord of 
the 5. A very beautiful fugue is attached to the first move- 
ment, with this dimly brooding theme (the embellishments 
omitted) : 

The counterpoint consists of an unfixed involved motive in 
semiquavers, which is preserved as a second theme through- 
out the fugue : 

Thus the two images of Saul, as "melancholy" and as 
"mad," contain the poetical germ of a truly musical de- 
velopment. Then we hear David's harp striking a prelude, 
as it were, and, at intervals, the gloomy meditations of the 
King, till David plays on without interruption, in one long 
sweep, the following idea 

-J- J hJ 

ft ' l 





r r f * 
^ HE] 

constantly repeating and varying it. And then, in the 
last part of it, the King's restored composure is indicated 
by a characteristic finale in staccato quavers. As in 
this, so in the other sonatas. Situations are selected 
which are characterised by the most simple and unmixed 
sentiment. This, for instance, is the programme of the 
sixth : " ist. The agitation of the sons of Israel by the 
deathbed of their beloved father. 2nd. Their grief at his 
death, their reflections, and what followed thereon. 3rd. 
The journey from Egypt to the land of Canaan. 4th. The 
burial of Israel and the bitter lamentation thereat. 5th. 
The comforted hearts of the survivors." The prevalent 


moods are in parts similar to those which Bach might have 
observed in his family at the departure of his brother. In 
fact, a certain musical agreement seems also to betray that this 
very sonata, whether consciously or unconsciously, floated in 
his mind. Kuhnau's musical images are throughout more 
broadly treated than Bach's; nor can we attribute this to 
the score of inexperience in the younger composer, since in 
other forms he already knew how to express himself very 
effectively. Rather may we regard it as an indication that 
Bach did not set to work with the full musical purpose of 
the older man, but, under a sense of doing something only 
half-artistic, carried out the composition with a certain 
humour, which might easily be associated with his regret 
at parting from his brother. Indeed, the depicting of moods 
in which the feelings of the artist are personally involved 
is never otherwise possible. If he himself had actually 
lamented and mourned as he represents, the power of com- 
position would have deserted him. Besides, the objective 
musical feeling triumphs so completely in the closing fugue 
that no doubt can remain as to the view Bach himself took 
of this class of music Programme-music as it came to be 

But we will go through it in order. The first piece is, 
" Persuasion addressed to friends that they withhold him 
(the brother) from his journey." Persuasion is represented 
by a very pleasing and really insinuating figure 

which recurs in other compositions of his early time. The 
second number " is a representation of the various casus 
(casualties) which may happen to him in a foreign country"; 
a fugue in G minor, nineteen bars long, which soon loses 
itself in remote keys possibly with symbolical intention, 
for the modulations proceed softly and imperceptibly and 
terminate at last with an expression as of some one wearied 
with talking, on the dominant of F minor. But, as nothing 
makes any impression on the brother, in the third part begins 


"A general lamentation by friends." Two basses ostinati 
rule almost the whole movement ; the second of these 

is a favourite motive with Bach, already put forward in this 
cantata. It occurs again in the first chorus of the cantata 
" Weinen, klagen, 80 and from thence was adopted into the 
"Crucifixus " of the Mass in B minor ; the first chorus of the 
cantata " Jesu, der du meine Seele"; 81 the first chorus of 
the cantata " Nach dir, Herr, verlanget mich"; the closing 
subject of the clavier toccata in F sharp minor; 82 a clavier 
fugue in A minor, 83 and other works. The upper part 
associated with these basses has sobbing or chromatically 
larmoyant passages ; as a whole, it is easy to detect in it 
the form of the passacaglio, and the great facility and variety 
of treatment cannot be sufficiently admired in a composer 
hardly twenty years of age. The pathetic and solitary bass 
at the end reminds us again of Bohm, whose influence 
is also recognisable in the elaborate ornamentation of the 
first two movements. In the fourth, "the friends seeing 
it cannot be otherwise, come to take leave " ; for this they 
have only eleven bars allowed them, for the post-chaise is 
already at the door. Part five, Aria di Postigiione, is a 
delightful little picture in two parts, in which a cheerful 
melody alternates with the signal given by the post-horns ; 
in the second part it lies in the bass, and sounds there as if 
it never could have belonged to any other place. When the 
carriage has driven off and the composer is left alone, he 
takes advantage of his solitude to write a double fugue on 
the post-horn call. 

We must devote some further attention to this fugue. It 
is the only thoroughly worked out piece in the whole capric- 
cio, and, in a musical sense, much the best. It is evident 

80 B.-G., II., No. 12, P., Vol. 1283. 

B. G., XVIII., No. 78, P., Vol. 1294. 

B.-G., III., p. 318. P., S. I., C. 4 (Vol. 210), No. 4. 

P., S. I., C. 4 (Vol. 208), No. 6. B.-G., III. 




that when Bach wrote this clavier-work as a memorial for 
his brother, his chief view was to write a good piece of music 
in which to show what he was capable of. He prefaced 
the parts with descriptions of the situations, because it was 
a favourable opportunity for imitating Kuhnau for once 
in this branch of art, treating them with that light irony 
which does not exclude a true interest in the subject, but 
ensures command of it. If we already find reason to admire 
a high degree of mastery in the descriptive movements, we 
are fairly astonished in contemplating the fugue ; indeed, we 
might doubt the early origin of the capriccio if its evident 
dependence on Kuhnau did not solve the mystery. The same 
phenomenon is observable as in his use of Bohm's chorale- 
partitas. Bach had such a wonderful sense of form, and his 
assiduity in study was so great, that his youthful receptivity 
very soon succeeded in absolutely assimilating the styles of 
other masters; at the same time he in no way renounced 
his personal characteristics. If this fugue ever came under 
Kuhnau's notice, he must at once have recognised himself in 
it, but he also must have discerned from afar the flight of 
a spirit other and mightier than his own. To mention the 
most conspicuous instance first, the whole technical structure 
and mechanism of the fugue is different from Bach's own 
later style, which makes the greatest demands on the indepen- 
dence and pliancy of every finger, and occasionally on the 
player's skill in runs; and yet its fundamental character is 
calm, equable, and flowing, and it is strictly opposed to all 
jumps and flying changes. But a player may be thoroughly 
versed in Bach's technique and yet meet in this fugue with 
exceptional difficulties. The themes both mimic the post- 
horn, the second recurring to the Aria di Postiglione : 

The first part has a new device : 


The combination reminds us of the double fugue in Kuhnau's 
"Saul"; then, in some places very decidedly, of a double 
fugue in his Clavierubung, for which Bach must have had 
a particular liking, since he worked up the first theme of it in 
a separate composition. To these two principal subjects he 
added a third counterpoint, which may almost be regarded as 
an independent theme it returns with so much regularity, is 
so distinct from the others, and yet coalesces with their 
combinations as if it had grown together with them. While 
the fugue flows uninterruptedly on in a fresh stream, inte- 
resting thematic images constantly come out, developing 
themselves most naturally from the second theme, so that, 
in fact, the whole art of subject-treatment is here brought to 
bear. It was a real Ricercar, a master-fugue that he would 
give to his brother; and if all it contains had been genuinely 
his own, we might already call him a master of fugue- 

I have already said that this capriccio is unique among 
Bach's works. But it is by no means the only one in which 
he has followed the footsteps of Kuhnau, and perhaps a mere 
accident has deprived us of the certainty that we possess 
a second example of Programme-music by him, for another 
composition in imitation of Kuhnau's pieces, with several 
subjects, undoubtedly exists. 84 The fact that it is entitled 
a " Sonata," a name first applied by Kuhnau to clavier- 
pieces in several movements, and at that time not yet univer- 
sally used, serves to confirm this view. 85 But the internal 
evidence is enough to allow of a decisive verdict. The 
first subject in D major, 3-4 time, is in construction and 
general consistency of character so totally unlike what we 
regard as characteristic of Bach, that no one who should 
meet with it apart from the movements that follow could 
guess that he was its composer. But it is closely allied to 

84 P., S. L, C. 13 (Vol. 216), No. 8. 

85 The title which Joh. Peter Kellner has given to the MSS. referred to, in 
the possession of Herr F. Roitzsch : " Sonata clamat in D4 et Fuga in H moll" 
is careless and uncertain. It is evident that the name " Sonata" must refer to 
the whole work of five movements. 

R 2 


the style of Kuhnau, who, in accordance with his musical 
views, produced many consistent and song-like movements; 
nay, I do not hesitate to assert that it is constructed on the 
pattern of a particular part of the " Historic" of Jacob's 
marriage. I mean the section which bears the indication, 
" The bridegroom happy on the wedding night ; something 
warns his heart of evil, but he soon forgets it again and 
falls asleep." In time, key, scope, accentuation of the 
principal ideas, and in general character, the agreement is 
complete. In both the whole is composed of aria-like 
phrases, mostly of eight bars, each time resulting in a perfect 
and almost always similar cadence, only Kuhnau is shorter 
and more lucid, Bach more massive in his harmonies and 
almost as long again, though he has on the whole no more 
to say. Here we detect the beginner. The similarity goes 
still further; just as Kuhnau brings in under the superscrip- 
tion "Jacob's wrath at the deception," a short subject formed 
of recitative-like phrases, Bach tacks on a little piece of 
fourteen bars in imitation of recitatives, from which a style 
is developed of polyphonic combination altogether resem- 
bling Kuhnau's (compare the first prelude of the first part of 
the Clavierubung), and it leads very beautifully into the 
dominant of B minor. The next piece is a fugue with this 
theme 86 

an expressive and remarkably independent piece, only 
rendered somewhat confused by the strettos which tread 
on each other's heels. We cannot reproach Bach, at any 
rate as compared with his contemporaries, for the defects 
in the counterpoint, which here and there consists only of a 
calm succession of chords ; nor for the answers to the theme, 
which are occasionally such as would be inadmissible ac- 
cording to those strict laws of composition which he himself 
was afterwards the first to observe in all their severity. 

M The almost exact resemblance to the andante of Beethoven's Pianoforte 
Sonata, Op. 28, must strike every one. Here, of course, there can be no idea 
of a plagiarism. 


Now comes a beautiful little movement adagio, still in 
strict style, and showing a depth of feeling which Kuhnau 
never had at his command ; then the closing fugue in the 
principal key, to which again the other master has contri- 
buted his share perhaps from the first subject of Jacob's 
marriage, though in plan it is otherwise quite different. 
More interesting to us than the musical value of this slightly 
built movement is the indication it bears in manuscript 
" Thema all Imitatio Gallina Cucca." w Thus this light 

is intended to mimic the cackling of a hen, with this other, 
which gives the accompanying contrary rhythm throughout 
the whole movement: 

It would hardly be too bold to argue, turning to this from the 
capriccio, that we here have a connection of similar ideas to 
that which subsists between the closing fugue of the capriccio 
and the rest of that piece. The two fugues have considerable 
general affinity, but the second dances on more quickly to the 
end, which may, perhaps, be attributable to the subject 
which was floating before the composer's mind. That 
certain definite ideas did in fact govern its origin is obvious 
from the transition from the previous adagio which is so 
devoid of musical motive that it seems to be endeavouring 
after some special utterance, from the recitative, and from 
its similarity to Kuhnau's " Historic"; which, however, I 
am not able to say, and I shall leave it to others to put 
forward any guesses on the subject. 

At any rate, the dramatic aspect of Kuhnau's compositions 
was that which least attracted Bach. If he ever yielded to 

87 Indifferent Italian for " Tema all' imitazione della chioccia." The post- 
horn fugue in the capriccio has the title " Fuga all' imitazione della cornetta 
di Postiglione." 


it at all there is no lack of evidence that he did so in a far 
more humorous vein. Under the relations which exist be- 
tween instrumental and vocal music, and the many close ties 
which at that time existed between these two great branches 
of art, as they still did a hundred years later, it would do 
his talent no dishonour if he had really for once believed 
that this class of art was of some value, particularly since 
it was protected by such a name as Kuhnau's. But, unless 
some more unknown treasures of instrumental music by 
Bach should one day be brought to light, the fact remains cer- 
tain that, after this juvenile attempt, he never again returned 
to this branch of music in the whole course of a long artistic 
career extending over nearly fifty years. To a genius so 
thoroughly and inexhaustibly musical as his, it must have 
been intolerable to see the art limping on crutches, or reduced 
to a subordinate position. 

The association of a musical composition with the con- 
ception of a definite scene, in order to arouse or to represent 
its emotional aspect, tends too often to mere platitude and 
weariness. It serves to stimulate the composer's inventive- 
ness when the natural energy of his purely musical ideas is 
exhausted; and the theoretical composers of Bach's time 
who, following the example of the rhetoricians of antiquity, 
set themselves a suitable " topic" or subject for invention 
since free invention yielded them little or nothing found in 
this process a means of inflaming their imagination by the 
images called up, a locus adjumentorum, as it was termed. The 
imaginative power of the hearer, however, far from finding a 
comprehension of the piece facilitated, is dragged away by 
secondary ideas from the main musical conception. The whole 
question of course turns on the nature of the ideas which it 
is the function of music to deal with. The French, whose 
genius for instrumental music is on the whole inconsiderable, 
were fond of adopting for their small clavier-pieces almost 
the only line in which they showed any creative talent 
such titles as L'Auguste, La Majestueuse, Les Abeilles, &c., 
thus stamping them as portraits or as genre pictures, and 
betraying their theatrical tendency. With regard to Kuhnau, 
a German, it has already been said that he usually succeeded 


in expressing situations which were replete with emotion, 
although, indeed, he sometimes adopts very trivial means, 
as, for instance, when he assigns recitatives to the clavier ; 
and in the succession of various tone pictures, of which the 
dramatic requirements are too obviously beyond the conditions 
of musical art, he really fails as an artist. But when the 
poetic element is worked out and subordinated to a purely 
musical conception, so as merely to suggest the limitation 
to one single and definite scheme of feeling, within which 
the music can evolve its being, this no doubt serves to con- 
centrate the sentiment, but also to turn the balance between 
the objective and subjective elements in the work essen- 
tially in favour of the latter. For that which is universally 
paramount in a work of art is Form, in which, in a piece of 
music, the idea or the image is not included. All such 
artistic ideas are visions for the solitary soul, and from that 
aspect are not less justifiable than the lyric form in the poetic 
art, since Goethe declares that this should properly always be 
a poem on a given occasion ; but to the multitude they are 
intelligible only in their narrowest development, and even 
then but rarely sympathetic. If the artist desires to give 
utterance to such a conception, he must necessarily make 
use of the human voice, since, in that, Nature has combined 
articulate speech with musical tone into an unit among the 
materials at his command. 

Bach's development not only bears weighty witness against 
such musical monologues, but confirms the correctness of the 
principle just laid down in the most striking way. Take 
the organ chorale, as written by Pachelbel, blossoming, as it 
were, from the points of contact where personal feeling 
meets the church melody, and uttering in mysterious 
harmonies all the sacred emotions and imperishable memo- 
ries that were woven round it in the composer's mind. 
What is it but a subjective picture of his own mood ? For 
a long period indeed Sebastian devoted all the powers of his 
genius by preference to this form of composition, and opened 
to us a world of sentiment that is as deep and immeasurable 
as the ocean. But the true essence of an artist is to be able 
to give outward form and expression to inward experience ; 


and, just as all art as a whole is constantly tending to an 
increasingly objective treatment of the subject selected, so 
must the individual development of every true artist. The 
aim and essence of Bach's chorale-choruses and forms of 
composition allied to them was the raising of the organ 
chorale to its utmost and highest perfection. Even in 
Weimar he had already started on this path, and during 
his residence in Leipzig he followed it up with stupendous 

The second movement of the sonata by Bach now under 
consideration has an independent pedal part, while in the 
rest of the composition only the hands are employed. A 
process here recurs which has been briefly alluded to in 
speaking of a chorale arrangement. In a great number of 
Bach's works it may be observed how he first gradually 
educated himself to use the pedals in a thoroughly indepen- 
dent way. No doubt his predecessors, too, had shown 
much freedom in this respect, since, excepting perhaps in 
the organ chorale, they had not confined themselves strictly 
to a subject in which the number of parts was the same 
throughout ; but still the proportions were always such that 
the pedal had to play an essential part in the composition, as 
soon as it had once been brought in to take its share in the 
working-out. But its isolated entrance in the middle of a 
piece, and its subsequent total disappearance, as in this sonata, 
is the stamp of a beginner; neither Pachelbel nor Buxtehude 
would have allowed himself such a licence. Nor is it more 
mature in style when we find the pedal first introduced 
towards the close of a composition, whether in the indepen- 
dent conduct of the theme or to give more brilliant effect to 
a closing cadence; here, certainly, there is an artistic purpose, 
which however is directed to a superficial effect. Finally, 
we come upon separate pedal notes serving as "pedal points," 
or as the deeper bass for a full chord. This treatment, which 
was known also to other composers of his time, hardly in- 
volves the pedal at all in the organism of the piece, and only 
uses it as an ornamental accessory. Consequently, if we are 
not completely deceived by the marks, this use of the pedals 
is still to be seen in the first years of Bach's second residence 


in Weimar, till it entirely disappears in the course of the 
artist's advance towards maturity. The other modes of 
using the pedals are referable only to the earliest period of 
his labours, and any one who realises the vigorous polyphonic 
treatment, of which he was master before the age of twenty, 
will hardly regard compositions of this stamp as still possible 
in the second half of the Arnstadt period. As a mere external 
consideration it must be remembered that the frequent prac- 
tice on the organ, for which he never had full opportunity 
till he went to Arnstadt, afforded him an opening for the 
independent use of the pedals, so that his compositions in 
general may be regarded as a standard by which to mea- 
sure his technical skill. In the one, as in the other, he 
went onwards and upwards with gigantic strides ; and we 
know that he would often sit the night out in obedience to 
the demands of his genius. 88 

One composition thus characterised by an arbitrary use of 
the pedals has a special biographical interest, because it 
is connected with Sebastian's eldest brother. As Johann 
Jakob, when starting with the Swedes, had a musical souvenir 
written for him, so we find that Joh. Christoph received a 
composition as a token on some festive occasion. For this, 
also, the title of" capriccio" was chosen, and, as in the former 
case, the occasion of the composition was exactly stated. 
Here it was, at any rate, indicated by the words, " In honour 
of Johann Christoph Bach, of Ohrdruf." 89 The idea that this 
was principally intended as an evidence of the artistic skill 
he had acquired, and of the progress he had made, seems all 
the more probable since the work was offered to his former 
master, possibly on his birthday. It can hardly be of later 
date than 1704, and was probably composed even before he 
left Liineburg. The progress of an artist is not invariably 
straight onward, or the latter date would certainly be the 

88 Mizler, Necrology, p. 167. 

89 " Capriccio. In honorem Joh. Christoph. Bachii (Ohrdruf} per Jh. Sb. 
Bach" Thus in a copy which comes down to us from Aloys Fuchs, and now is 
in the Royal Library, Berlin. The same title, with a few alterations, is in a copy 
by his younger contemporary, J. P. Kellner. P., S. I., C. 13 (Vol. 216), No. 6. 


correct one, for the merit of the second of these capriccios 
is undoubtedly less than that of the first. It consists only 
of one fugal movement, but the title was not then unusual 
for an informal work of the fugue type. Informal it is, 
in so far as that all sorts of other elements have a casual 
existence in subordination to the theme passages of pre- 
tentious counterpoint which come to nothing, transient 
ornamental effects interspersed with full chords. This inco- 
herent treatment of the fugue betrays the influence of the 
northern school as strongly as the cleverness of the thematic 
development, which, indeed, is what lends the piece its chief 
interest. Otherwise, in spite of its actual length (126 bars, 
common time), it is not fully and duly developed. The road 
leads over neither hill nor vale, but through a level plain, 
not wholly without beauty. The greater part of the blame 
attaches to the theme 

which, as compared with the brisk fresh post-horn thema, 
moves on stealthily and almost sleepily. It is in bar sixty- 
seven that the pedal is suddenly brought in, for no other 
reason than that both hands may be employed in the imita- 
tive passages above the bass. It disappears again after a few 
bar, returning once more for the same purpose towards the 
end, where an opportunity is given to the player for exhibit- 
ing his skill in brilliant passages of demi-semiquavers. We 
may assume that the bass was arbitrarily strengthened by the 
pedal as suitable opportunities occurred. However, it is 
necessary only in these two places. From its general 
character the capriccio seems to be intended for the cem- 

A work, however, in which the adaptation for the organ is un- 
mistakable, and which must likewise be ascribed to this period, 
on account of the undeveloped form of pedal treatment, is a 
prelude with its accompanying fugue, in C minor. 90 In this 
instance the composition may without any doubt be assigned 

P., S. V., C. 4 (Vol. 243), No. 5. 


to the Arnstadt time; the rapture with which the composer 
revels in the unlimited wealth of tone in the organ, glows in 
every bar. In the prelude the pedal is, except in an intro- 
ductory solo of several bars, employed only for the long-held 
bass notes, on which is built a splendid flowing movement in 
imitation, that is still another proof of Bach's early mastery 
of polyphonic writing ; in only two places (bars twenty and 
twenty-four) does he use the mannerisms of the time, which 
he afterwards entirely cast off. The fugue is constructed 
in such a way that the pedal does not enter until quite 
the end, when it has the subject, it is true, but with no 
counterpoint in the manuals, only chords accompanying 
it in harmony. He may not yet have fully conquered 
the art of form, any more than that of execution ; but it 
is a striking proof of the evenness between the outer 
and inner development of Bach's genius, that the impres- 
sion produced is not in any way that of an idea only par- 
tially realised. His thoughts fell naturally into the form 
in which justice could best be done them by his executive 
skill; and though this was not yet completely and equally 
developed, the composition is homogeneous throughout. 
The late entry of the pedal part may practically result from 
the fact that Bach was not yet able to use it independently 
in the form of an obbligato; it is evident, notwithstanding, 
that an intentional climax is obtained at the end by means 
of it. In fact, the true fire of youth burns throughout 
the piece with a bright flame ; the semiquaver passages in 
the pedals roaring and rushing up and down, accompanied 
by the heavy chords in the manual, have a very impos- 
ing effect, and one which is particularly suited to the 
organ ; and in the rushing torrents of sound, which over- 
whelm everything at the end, there is much more than 
mere striving after executive brilliancy. If we consider 
the structure of the fugue in other respects, we shall 
find that the way in which the entrances of the subjects 
follow one another betrays the desire not so much to 
fulfil the higher and highest demands of the fugue form as 
to revel freely in a mighty realm of sound. That this is a 
special characteristic of the period before Bach, which, more 


or less removed from the old strict polyphony, strove above 
all things to bring into use the whole tone material of the 
organ, has already been emphatically asserted. It was 
reserved for Bach himself to achieve the most perfect mastery 
over the outer material as subservient to the loftiest ideal. 
This was the case at the time of his highest perfection, 
when, as he became ever stricter and more strict, the traces 
of the freedom of an earlier time grow very rare. At 
this time, however, they were of very common occurrence. 
The C minor fugue is in three parts, up to the entrance of the 
pedals, where the part-writing ceases. These three parts, 
however, are not as it were individuals partaking in the 
development of the piece by the regular alternate delivery 
of the theme. The theme begins on c, and ascends 
constantly in the four subsequent entrances into the octave 
between c" and c'" ; from the third entrance it remains, of 
course, in the upper part. The rule of fugue construction 
is not adhered to, except in the changes between tonic and 
dominant, and their inner relations to one another; in truth, 
this is the natural foundation for organ fugues, as well as 
for all branches of instrumental music. The feeling of or- 
ganic unity, which in other forms is gained in a different 
way, is here only possible by adherence to a fixed number of 
parts, which seem, like individuals, intended for one another. 
The end and aim of form is to vivify its materials, and of 
all these the organ tone is one of the most inanimate. 

Among the most interesting of Bach's youthful works is 
to be reckoned another fugue in C minor, which seems to 
be of nearly the same date as the foregoing. 91 It is 
interesting, too, because themes resembling this one, but 
more mature and full of meaning, are found in several 
different fugues, so that it seems to be the expression of an 
element inherent in Bach's deepest nature. It is brought 
to marvellous perfection in the three-part fugue in the E 

M P., S. V., C. 4 (Vol. 243), No. 9. Griepenkerl, in the preface to that volume, 
assigns it, on the authority of a very old MS., to the Weimar period, in which, 
however, he gives it a very early place. The use of the pedals is also in tins 
case a very plain guide. 



minor toccata for clavier, for which this fugue would seem 
to be a sketch, so closely allied are they, both in matter 
and method. But this one, too, is important enough by 
itself, and it may well be doubted if such a theme as the 
following had ever occurred to any one else at that time : 

It is true that the harmonic, and at the same time melodic, 
figure used from the middle of the third bar onwards was a 
favourite and very effective means of uniting rapidity with 
breadth of sound on the organ, and dignity with anima- 
tion ; but when we look at the beginning what a vague 
indefiniteness of motion in rhythm and harmony though 
it was, and is, a fundamental rule to make the theme of 
a fugue clear both in tonality and in rhythm ! In this, at 
first, we do not know whether E flat major or C minor is 
intended, and even when this doubt is solved in the next 
bar, we have the choice, owing to the four semiquavers on 
the third beat, of taking it as in F minor or A flat major, 
until the entry of the response decides for the major. The 
treatment, however, throughout is uncommon and of great 
harmonic beauty. The uncertainty of the rhythm continues 
still longer; as far as the third beat of the fourth bar the 
player or the reader alone could know on which notes the 
chief accents lay, and the unprepared hearer would doubtless 
conceive of the phrase as accentuated in this way 

since the organ has no power of accentuation, and the 
rhythm is not made clear until the fourth bar. This sudden 
plunge from subjective obscurity into objective clearness is 
a deeply rooted characteristic of Bach's artistic method. A 
glance at the F sharp minor fugue, in the second part of 
the Wohltemperirte Clavier, will serve to show how he 
yielded to it even in later life. From the theme onwards 


the work is pervaded by a feeling of tension and an expres- 
sion of longing for a blissfulness as yet but dimly antici- 
pated ; a wonderful effect, and one entirely unlike anything 
then existing, is produced in passages like this 

by the chord of the sixth in A flat major, with the third 
above and below, and the sad uncertain diminished chord in 
the next bar. The composer comes constantly back to this 
counterpoint, as though he could never be weary of it. The 
flood of feeling with which the whole is permeated is so 
intense that we willingly forget how little wealth of counter- 
point the fugue displays, and how few are the changes with 
which similar combinations recur in different positions. It 
is a restless and delightful drifting to and fro, not designed 
to carry us to any harbour. At the close a pedal passage 
comes in, to warn us, apparently at least, of the approaching 
end ; and this is ratified by an emphatic solo, otherwise we 
should hardly believe it. 

The question here arises what Bach did, at this time oi 
the budding and happy blossoming of his genius, in the way 
of organ chorales. We cannot suppose him to have now 
neglected that form of composition to which some of his 
earliest experiments belong, to which he devoted such in- 
defatigable industry at his greatest period, and to which 
his inclination continually prompted him. An arrangement 
of the chorale " Wie schon leucht't uns der Morgenstern " 
" How brightly shines the morning star," also exists in an 
elegant autograph, of which the whole character assigns it 
to the period of his residence in Arnstadt. 92 It is written 
for two manuals and pedals, and clearly betrays the influence 
of the northern masters. We must also bear in mind that 
it was in the path struck out by Pachelbel that the boy 

92 Four leaves in small oblong quarto in the Royal Library at Berlin. 


was first led by his brother's hand, and that this influence 
again met him on all sides when he returned from his three 
years* sojourn in Thuringia. Since, during his residence in 
the north, he gave himself entirely up to the influence of the 
original genius of the masters that were most esteemed there, 
we should hardly be mistaken in assuming that he would 
come back with energies renewed and enriched, to the forms 
of art which he could with truth call those of his native 
country. These forms were the true soil the deepest and 
most productive of all in which the Bach organ chorale, 
like a majestic oak, had its root, while all other influences 
were accessory, serving only as the nourishing water. During 
these first years at Arnstadt we must think of him as follow- 
ing most of all in the footsteps of Pachelbel. The works 
that can with any show of probability be pointed out as the 
result of his studies at this time are certainly very few. A set 
of seventeen variations on " Allein Gott in der Hoh sei Ehr" 
is ascribed to him in an old MS. 98 The internal evidence 
against its authenticity is much weakened if we consider it 
as an early work, remembering how very nearly Bach at this 
time approached to the style of Bohm and Kuhnau. In many 
of the variations we perceive a breathing likeness to Pachel- 
bel, but especially in the second, where the cantus firmus is 
in the pedal part, and in the eleventh, where the melody is 
given to an inner part. The fact, too, of the piece being worked 
in three parts throughout agrees with Pachelbel's ordinary 
and usual method. Original features are scarcely to be dis- 
cerned, and therefore the variations bear no weighty witness 
to the point of development which Bach had reached at this 
time. Such evidence can only be derived from compositions 
which reveal some new matter, even though the form be not 
original. Buttstedt, Walther, and others wrote pieces all 
their lives long which might have been written by Pachelbel. 
Bach's relations to him can have been no more marked than 
his relations to Bohm, Kuhnau, and Buxtehude. Nay, the 
more familiar he was from childhood with Pachelbel's method, 
the earlier must he have learnt to move freely and indepen- 

* In the possession of Dr. Rust, Leipzig, unpublished. 


dently in that method ; but this independence, naturally, is 
not very conspicuous in this production, which was perhaps 
lightly thrown off and quickly finished. 



Two years had slipped away in diligent and secluded labours 
in his art. If Bach, at the very first, had gained the respect 
of the citizens of Arnstadt by his conspicuous skill, he had 
by this time means at his command to rouse them at times 
to admiration. But whether it fell out so is another question. 
It is quite certain that only a few suspected his genius ; the 
majority asked no more than that he should fulfil his duties 
satisfactorily, which on the whole was not demanding too 
much. The musician took the contrary view ; to him the 
aim and end of his official position was the opportunity it 
afforded him for undisturbed self-improvement. Convinced, 
for his own part, of what he owed to his own gifts, he found 
certain parts of his duty displeasing and intrusive. Besides, 
the supply of artistic experience and inspiration which he 
had brought with him from the towns of North Germany, 
had gradually been exhausted. He wanted to find himself 
free once more, and to enjoy the invigorating and refreshing 
intercourse with superior artists which he had been deprived 
of now for some years. He had been able to save the funds 
for a long journey out of his salary, so, towards the end of 
October, 1705, after finding an efficient deputy, he petitioned 
for four weeks leave of absence. 94 

His destination again lay northwards, being in fact Liibeck, 

94 Immediately after his return he was summoned to appear before the Con- 
sistory, February 21, 1706, and charged with having remained away four times 
H")L, 4 U~-tL/c.) as long as his permission extended. See the document quoted later, which is 
i.j. I in agreement with the statement in Mizler, p. 162, that his stay in Liibeck was 

almost a quarter of a year if the time for his journeys to and fro and some 
] days spent in Hamburg and Liineburg on his return journey be deducted. 


the residence of Buxtehude. Pachelbel, indeed, was living 
still nearer to him, but in the south at Nuremberg; and 
he was sixteen years younger and by so much more vigorous 
than Buxtehude. But Bach probably, and very rightly, took 
the view that he could no longer acquire anything in Nurem- 
berg that had not long formed part of the common stock 
in Thuringia, and become to him part of his very being, 
while the art of the Liibeck master offered new and peculiar 
aspects, and had as yet gained small acceptance in Central 
Germany. His reason for choosing the late autumn season 
for his journey probably was that between Martinmas (No- 
vember n) and Christmas the famous " Abendmusiken," or 
evening performances, were held in the Marien-Kirche at 
Liibeck, and he must have wished to hear them. Thus he 
had no time to linger on the way at Liineburg or Hamburg, 
or anywhere else if he was to arrive in time ; and the whole 
fifty miles must be made on foot. 

Dietrich Buxtehude was a Northman in the strictest 
sense a Dane. His father, Johann Buxtehude, held the 
post of Organist at the Church of St. Olai (St. Olaf s), 
at Helsingor, in Seeland, where the son was born in 
1637. Nothing accurate is known as to the mode of his ^ 
education, 95 but it probably was influenced by the school 
of Sweelinck. In the sixth decade of the century he went 
to Liibeck, and there he soon attracted general observa- 
tion by his playing and his conspicuous musical talents. 
Very possibly he was tempted thither by the prospect of 
succeeding the Organist Tunder, who had died Novem- 
ber 5, 1667, at the church of St. Mary ; and he was in 
fact elected to this office, April n, i668. 96 A few months 
after this he married (August 3) Anna Margaretha, the 
daughter of the deceased organist. It would seem that a 
custom at that time made this marriage an indispensable 

95 According to Walther, Johann Theile was his teacher, but this is obviously 
an error, since he was nine years younger than Buxtehude. 

86 H. Jimmerthal, Beschreibung der grossen Orgel (an organ built between 
'^S 1 ^) i n der St. Marien-Kirche zu Lubeck, p. 44. Erfurt und Leipzig : 
G. W. Korner, 1859. 



condition. 97 The place of organist to this church was one of 
the best in all Germany. At the beginning of the eighteenth 
century it was worth 709 marks ; the office of receiver, which 
was combined with it, brought in 226 marks, and there were 
besides various fees and perquisites. The organ was of 
considerable compass, and, as it would seem, tasteful in 
construction, with fifty-four stops to three manuals and 
pedal. 98 Hence, a man of genius and energy would find here 
a favourable soil for prosperous activity. 

Buxtehude had not long been in office when the signs of 
his presence were already visible. His efforts were directed, 
not merely to organ -playing, but to grand musical perform- 
ances, which were only very remotely connected with the 
church services. In 1670, a choir was built in the Church of 
St. Mary, close by the organ, expressly for the singers, and, 
in the year 1673, we first find mention made of that "evening 
music " which Lubeck could at that time boast of as a pecu- 
liar institution. These performances took place every year 
before Christmas, on the two last Sundays in Trinity, and the 
second, third, and fourth Sundays in Advent, from four to five, 
after afternoon service. Buxtehude must not, however, be 
regarded as having instituted them, since he himself wrote in 
a church register kept by him, which still exists, that they 
had been customary of old. As to where they originated and 
on what occasion only the vaguest guesses were rife, strangely 
enough, even in the eighteenth century. What, however, 
remains certain is that Buxtehude raised them to greater 
importance. On these evenings concerted sacred music 
especially was performed, both longer and shorter pieces ; 
but of course it must be understood that Buxtehude was 

A passage from his Hochzeitscarmen or epithalamium, in the City Library 
at Liibeck, seems to hint at this : 

True, indeed, it pleased him ill, and he longed to be as free 
As of yore ; but longed in vain he had lost his liberty. 
For the maiden's fair demeanour with some unaccustomed fever. 
Asking for its satisfaction got the upper-hand for ever. 

In the same song mention is made of the esteem in which the Lubeck citizens 
held him as an artist. 
98 The specification is given in Appendix, B. IV. 


to be heard between the pieces as an accomplished organist. 
His brother-in-law, Samuel Frank, a native of Stettin, at 
first rendered him much assistance. He was cantor at 
Liibeck, and fourth master in the St. Catherine School, but 
was already dead in 1670." The municipality showed no less 
readiness to support the master in his efforts ; musicians and 
instruments alike were procured. Buxtehude attached great 
importance to a perfect orchestra. Quite at an early date 
he had purchased two trumpets "constructed in a singular 
manner, such as had hitherto been seen in no prince's 
band." In 1680 he organised a grand performance, in which 
an orchestra of nearly forty persons were engaged besides 
the singers and the organ. For this purpose the inde- 
fatigably zealous musician had himself written out about 
four hundred sheets, and as the profits did not answer to 
the outlay, the church allowed him an additional sum of 
one hundred marks. It might seem from this that the 
"Abendmusiken " were regular church concerts, to which 
admission was by payment. This, however, certainly was 
not the case ; entrance was always free, as if to Divine 
service. But it was the custom to have the books of the 
words of all five concerts neatly bound together, and to send 
them to the houses of the well-to-do citizens of Liibeck; and 
it was a matter of honour on the part of the recipients to 
send back an adequate honorarium. The impresario of the 
concerts was thus reimbursed for his outlay, and paid himself 
with the possible surplus. What Buxtehude developed out 
of the " Abendmusik " proved to be an institution which 
struck deep root in the life of the citizens of Liibeck, was 
kept up throughout the whole of the eighteenth century, 
and was even carried on during part of the nineteenth. 100 

99 The extraordinarily rich musical library of the Marien-Kirche was presented 
by the town of Liibeck to the Gesellschaft der Musikfreunde, in Vienna, in 
1814. See C. F. Pohl, Die Gesellschaft der Musikfreunde (Vienna, 1871), 
pp. 114, 115. 

100 The principal printed source of information as to Buxtehude is Johannis 
Molleri Cimbria Literata, Vol. II., p. 132 (Havniae, 1744). There, among 
others, a passage is quoted from Hoveln's Begliickte und geschmuckte 
Liibeck, p. 114, where the "Abendmusik of the world-famed organist and 

S 2 


His fame now spread widely and rapidly ; he became a 
centre round which younger talents gathered. The most 
important of these was Nikolaus Bruhns, born in 1665, at 
Schwabstadt in Schleswig ; Buxtehude afterwards procured 
him occupation for many years at Copenhagen till he be- 
came Organist at Husum, where he died, unfortunately in 
the prime of his powers, in 1697. He was also an admirable 
violin-player, and by his method of double-stopping could pro- 
duce such effects that the hearers could fancy they were listen- 
ing to three or four violins. 101 Daniel Erich, afterwards Organ- 
ist at Giistrow, also deserves mention; and Georg Dietrich 
Leiding, born in 1664, at Biicken near Hoya, who, like Bach, 
made a pilgrimage in 1684 from Brunswick to Hamburg and 
Liibeck to derive instruction from Reinken's and Buxtehude's 
playing. 102 We may even suspect Buxtehude's direct influence 
on Vincentius Liibeck, who has already been mentioned. 
He was in close friendship with Andreas Werkmeister among 
others, who was organist at Halberstadt and an excellent 
theoretical musician, and he took the opportunity of testify- 
ing to this friendship by addressing to him, after the manner 
of the time, two poems in his praise, which were inserted 
before his Harmonologia Musica, 1702; one of these is an 
acrostic on the composer's name, and shows a more than 
ordinary facility of diction. A later generation were equally 
unanimous in his praise, at their head Mattheson, who 
mentions him with Werkmeister, Froberger, and Pachelbel, 
as one of the few who, " although merely an organist," still 
could show intelligent folks that he had something more in 
him " than merely clanking the cymbals." 103 

composer, Dietrich Buxtehude," is fully discussed. Other materials are derived 
from the church registers, account books, and official documents of St. Mary's 
Church, which I owe to the kindness of Professor Mantel, of Liibeck. 
Mattheson also, in the Vollkommene Capellmeister, mentions the " Abend- 
musik." Ruetz discusses them later and more fully in a work entitled, Wider- 
legte Vorurtheile von der Beschaffenheit der heutigen Kirchenmusik, p. 44. 
(Liibeck, 1752.) H. Jimmmerthal has lately discussed the matter in a careful 
little work, Dietrich Buxtehude, Historische Skizze. (Lubeck, 1879.) 

101 Mattheson, Ehrenpforte, p. 26. 

102 Walther, Lexicon, under " Erich " and " Leiding." 
108 Mattheson, Grosse General-Bass-Schule, p. 42. 


Mattheson,born in Hamburg in 1681, and a resident there 
throughout his life, had ample opportunity for knowing and 
hearing Buxtehude. This he did in 1703 ; still the immediate 
cause of his doing so at that time was the prospect of the pos- 
sible death of the master, already advanced in years. He had 
never forgotten the circumstances and conditions under which 
he himself had obtained his office, and he, like his prede- 
cessors, determined that his place should only be filled 
by a man who should marry one of his daughters. As 
such a bargain, though not unusual at the time, might not 
be to every man's taste, it was necessary to look out betimes 
for a successor. Mattheson at that time enjoyed a repu- 
tation as a thorough musician and singer and a skilful player, 
for which reason Von Wedderkopp, the president of the 
council, invited him to Liibeck to take a nearer view of the 
position. In the same year Handel had visited Hamburg and 
formed a close friendship with Mattheson. By his friend's 
request he made the journey with him, for it offered 
various prospects of enjoyment and instruction to the two 
young men, and it survived as a pleasing memory thirty- 
seven years after, in Mattheson's memoirs, where he alluded 
to it. 104 Buxtehude played to them ; then they themselves 
tried "almost every organ andclavi-cembalo"; and as Handel, 
notwithstanding his youth, was his companion's superior on 
the organ, he played that instrument and Mattheson played 
the harpsichord. But the matrimonial conditions frightened 
Mattheson away ; and well they might, for the bride proposed 
to him, Anna Margaretha Buxtehude, was born in 1669, and 
was thus no less than twelve years older than himself. 105 His 
comrade of eighteen, who from his previous training was 
peculiarly fitted for the post, must under these circumstances 
have had even less inclination for it, even if he had had no 
other prospect in view. So they satisfied themselves with 

104 Ehrenpforte, under " Handel," p. 94. 

106 The church register does not indeed give the name in this particular place, 
and Buxtehude had six daughters; but as Schieferdecker, the organist who 
succeeded him, married one of them, named Anna Margaretha, it can only have 
been this one the eldest. Her name was the same as her mother's; besides, it 
is natural that the office should have involved marrying the eldest daughter, 


music and those pleasures which the citizens felt themselves 
bound to offer to invited guests and distinguished artists, and 
" after many proofs of respect and the enjoyment of many 
entertainments," they withdrew from Liibeck. 

Two years later Bach was standing before the organ on 
which Handel had played. But the very different conditions 
in which he found himself throw a strong light on the 
difference in the development of the two men. Handel had 
come to Liibeck to see whether the place might suit him if 
Mattheson should not wish to take it : the evening perfor- 
mances, the fine instrument, and the high salary, might 
provisionally seem a temptation to him. He was a very fine 
organ-player, but there is no reason to suppose that he was 
superior to his contemporary Bach. And yet, with two 
years more of diligent study and training, Bach was far from 
imagining that he could get a lucrative appointment in 
Lubeck. It was exclusively the desire to acquire some 
new and important elements of artistic knowledge which 
brought him to the side of the great master of organ-playing : 
for the organ was the starting-point of his own develop- 
ment the germ from which, in great measure, his charac- 
teristic creations grew and spread. Handel, with a genius 
which, if more comprehensive, was far less profoundly labo- 
rious, never stood in so intimate a connection with the organ 
music of his time, that essentially German branch of art; 
and the way in which he afterwards made it subserve his 
grand and pregnant artistic ideal, the oratorio, demanded not 
so much profound treatment as breadth and brilliancy. The 
outward circumstances answer to this. Handel arrives from 
Hamburg in the bright midsummer days, in the gay society 
of Mattheson, and in obedience to an invitation from the 
president of the council ; he enjoys an affable welcome, and 
festivities in his honour. Bach comes on foot in the dull 
autumn weather from remote Thuringia, following his own 
instinct, and perhaps not knowing one single soul that 
might look for his coming. 106 But his talent was his best 

06 Mizler, p. 162. " In Arnstadt once he was moved by a particularly strong 
impulse that he should hear as many good organists as possible. he went, 


letter of introduction. It is beyond all doubt that the 
venerable Buxtehude must have observed what a genius was 
here in blossom, and that an affinity in the artistic views of 
the two men must have bridged over the half-century of years 
between them, and have drawn them together. Once intro- 
duced into this new world of art, Bach soon could think of 
nothing else. His leave expired without his troubling 
himself about the matter ; he had become indifferent to the 
plaoe of Organist to the New Church at Arnstadt. Week 
after week passed by ; he outstayed the allotted time twice 
the time three times. It can be to a certain extent ascer- 
tained what he heard of Buxtehude's larger compositions. 
On the occasion of the death of the Emperor Leopold I., 
and the accession of the Emperor Joseph, Buxtehude per- 
formed on December 2 and 3, 1705, from four to six in the 
afternoon, a Castrum doloris and Templum honoris at 
St. Mary's Church. These two works, which were printed 
at the time, are now unfortunately lost. 

A considerable number of Buxtehude's compositions were 
published at Liibeck during his lifetime. They were prin- 
cipally concerted works for church use, among them the 
pieces written from 1678 to 1687 for the " Abendmusik," 
with incidental compositions, large and small. Of these 
only five wedding arias have been preserved. Nothing has 
come to my knowledge of his printed instrumental composi- 
tions ; possibly a work consisting of seven sonatas for violin 
and viol di gamba, with harpsichord (Liibeck, 1696), is the 
only one which was published. 107 Mattheson insisted that 

on foot too, a journey to Liibeck, to hearken to the famous organist of St. Mary's 
Church in that town Dietrich Buxtehude." The conspicuous contrast be- 
tween Handel and Bach led Forkel to interpret the word " behorchen " as mean- 
ing " to listen secretly," but it only means to hearken with attention and 
docility. That Bach, who was already a distinguished artist, should not have 
ventured to make Buxtehude's acquaintance, while Handel two years previously 
had boldly gone to work on his organ and brought him pupils from all sides, 
has really no sense. 

1( " Gerber, N. L. I., col 590, gives a list of Buxtehude's printed works, and inac- 
curately quotes Moller's Cimbria Litterata as the authority, for he has combined 
with it the notices by Walther (Lex., p. 123) and Mattheson. Moller's list runs as 


Buxtehude's chief strength lay in clavier music, and lamented 
that " little or nothing" of his in that line had been printed. 
Thus even he knew of none in print. It is therefore doubtful 
whether a collection of seven Suites for clavier, of which the 
existence is announced, ever were distributed, excepting in 
written copies. At the same time, it was almost exclusively 
to these Suites, now lost, that Buxtehude owed the circum- 
stance that even in later times he was now and then spoken 
of as a composer. He is said, for instance, to have " cun- 
ningly represented in them the nature and characteristics of 
the planets," 108 whence we might suspect them to have been 
examples of the most tasteless "programme-music." On 
the other hand, it must be remembered that the seven planets 
no more were known at that time, and the sun and moon 
were reckoned in had special identities of character attri- 
buted to them, from which astrologers calculated their 
influence on the lives and fortunes of men. It is evident 

follows: "Various Hochzeh-Arien. Lubecae 1672, infol. Fried- und Freuden- 
reiche Hinfahrt des alten Simeons, bey Absterben seines Vaters, Juh. Buxte- 
huden [The peaceful and joyful departure of aged Simeon ; on the occasion of 
his father's death, by Joh. Buxtehude], 32jahrigen Organisten in Helsingor (der 
zu Liibeck am 22 Jan. 1674. 72jahrig verstorben) in zwey Contrapunc- 
ten musicalisch abgesungen. Lub. 1674. infol. Abend Musick in IX. Theilen. 
Lub. 1678-1687. in 4. Hochzeit des Lammes. Lub. 1681 in 4. VII. Sonate 
a doi, Violino &> Viola di gamba, con cembalo. Lub. 1696. in fol. Anonymi 
hundertjahriges Gedichte vor die Wolfahrt der Stadt Liibeck ; am I Jan. des 
Jubeljahres 1700. in S. Mamw-Kirche musicalisch vorgestellt. Lub. 1700. in 
fol. Castrum doloris dem verstorbenen Keyser Leopoldo und Templum honoris 
dem regierenden Keyser Josepho I. ; in zwey Musicken, in der Marien-Kirche 
zu Liibeck, gewidmet. Lub. 1705. in fol." To these he adds two works which 
were ascribed to Buxtehude in the Leipzig catalogue of the Spring book- 
fair of 1684. " i. Himmlische Seelen Lust auf Erden iiber die Menschwerdung 
und Geburt unsers Heylandes Jesu Christi. 2. Das allerschrocklichste und 
allererfreulichste, nemlich das Ende der Zeit, und der Anfang der Ewigkeit, 
Gesprachsweisevorgestellet." [" i. Heavenly joy on Earth, over the Incarnation 
and Birth of our Saviour Jesus Christ. 2. The most fearful and most joyful [of 
events], namely, the End of Time and the Beginning of Eternity, set forth in 
recitative."] I may here refer the reader to my own edition of Buxtehude, 
brought out since the first volume of this work was written: two vols., 
Leipzig, Breitkopf and Hartel, 1875-1876. They include several pieces which 
were unknown to me at the time when I wrote upon Buxtehude's charac- 

106 Mattheson, Vollkommener Capellmeister, p. 130. 


that Buxtehude had proposed to reflect these in his Suites, 
and so to compose seven characteristic pieces; and this, in 
Mattheson's opinion, he had perfectly succeeded in doing. It 
is difficult to see why this should be a more unmusical idea 
than Couperin's, when he called his sarabandes and allemandes 
" La Majestueuse," "La Tenebreuse" &c. On the contrary, the 
suggestion betrays a far deeper comprehension of the essence 
of purely instrumental music than any Frenchman ever 
showed. That the art of music is a reverberation of the 
harmonious order of the universe, and that a mysterious con- 
nection subsists between its pure tones in their essence and 
combinations, and the sempiternal motions of the Cosmos 
with the heavenly bodies, keeping their orbits in an infinite 
space which is instinct with life such thoughts as these 
have stirred the deepest minds from extreme antiquity down 
to the present day. Beyond a doubt, that which guided 
the composer in an attempt which, at the first glance, 
seems so singular, at a time when it was not unusual to 
require of music that it should represent a given subject, 
was a true feeling for what really could be fitly rendered 
by it. 

Between Froberger, Kuhnau, and the French composers 
on one side, and Sebastian Bach on the other whose 
compositions, apart from his organ chorales, are the very 
essence of pure tone for tone's sake Buxtehude stands 
as a compromise, leaning, however, visibly towards the 
latter. Our hypothesis would be still further confirmed 
if the seven Suites were based on the seven degrees of the 
diatonic scale, as Kuhnau, in his " Claviertibung," had gone 
through both the major and minor scales with seven Suites 
each, one on each note. 109 Then a direct reminiscence of 
Greek antiquity might come in : the Pythagoreans taught 
that the intervals between the orbits of the seven planets 
corresponded to those of the notes of the seven-stringed lyre. 
Unfortunately, there is no prospect of this interesting work 
ever coming to light again. It was greatly due to two 

109 Leaving out, however, B major and B flat minor, no doubt, on account of 
difficulties of temperament. 


contemporaneous authorities that any instrumental compo- 
sitions were even at the time preserved in MS. the indus- 
trious collector Joh. Gottfried Walther and Sebastian 
Bach himself. 110 The first preserved only organ chorales, 
but what we derive from Bach, be it observed, are al- 
most exclusively independent organ pieces ; he understood 

In point of fact, interesting and clever as his chorale 
arrangements are, in this department he cannot stand com- 
parison with Pachelbel and his school. It was, therefore, 
greatly to the master's disadvantage that, of those few of 
his compositions which, until quite recently, had been made 
accessible to the world by being printed, the greater number 
were chorales. 111 In this way a quite one-sided and often 
unfavourable idea must be formed of his true importance. 
His chief strength lay for we must somewhat expand Mat- 
theson's verdict in pure instrumental music, uninfluenced 
by any adventitious poetical idea. In this he is the negative 
pole, so to speak, to Pachelbel, who marked an epoch by his 
organ chorales, and by what he wrought out from a thorough 
and persistent study of popular melody namely, the inven- 
tion of expressive musical themes. Buxtehude, by his grand 
independent compositions, which are full of genius, aided 
greatly in the culture of one important side, at any rate, 
of Bach's talent a side which now might be supposed 
to be the most imperishable, because it is based on the 
very essence and nature of music. That he should other- 
wise have influenced Central Germany very little is easily 

110 In the volume of selections before mentioned, Walther wrote out vvitk his 
own hand a great number of Buxtehude's chorale arrangements together. All 
that came from Bach's family is in the MS. of Andreas Bach, two remarkably 
beautiful volumes of writing now in the library of the Joachimsthaler Gymna- 
sium in Berlin, derived from the collections of Kirnberger or Agricola, and in 
the Krebs volumes. 

111 XIV. Choralbearbeitungen fur die Orgel von Dietrich Buxtehude heraus- 
gegeben von S. W. Dehn. Leipzig: C. F. Peters." A few smaller ones were 
published by Commer (Musica Sacra, I., No. 8), and G. W. Korner (Gesammt- 
ausgabe der classischen Orgel-Compositionen von Dietrich Buxtehude. Erfurt 
and Leipzig, only one part issued.) This contains, in part, the same works as 
those published by Dehn. 


explained, since there almost all effort was concentrated 
on the chorale, while in the North there was no very 
great disposition to treat this particular form as a medium 
for subjective utterance. Between the South Germans, who 
did not possess the Protestant chorale, and Buxtehude, 
with his fellow musicians, there was, on the other hand, 
a closer affinity as was natural under the more similar 
conditions and this is visible in many peculiarities of 
style, particularly in the construction of melodies. In 
other particulars, to be sure, as in harmonic treatment, 
in the employment of colouring, and in pitch, there is 
all the difference between the noonday and the evening's 

There are twenty-four organ compositions, rich alike in 
matter and extent, on which we can found a more certain 
judgment as to Buxtehude's high importance in this branch 
of art. 112 Among them are two chaconnes, a passecaille, one 
shorter toccata and two longer ones, three separate fugues, 
and two canzonets ; the remainder consists of preludes with 
fugues, to which we shall first turn our attention. The 
preludes have generally an ornate subject, carried on in 
all the parts in a full stream of imitation, of which a good 
share is given to the pedal, which also becomes frequently 
prominent in brilliant solo passages. This last feature 
forms an essential mark of difference from the many 
similarly constructed toccata movements by the South 
German organ-masters; and comparison especially teaches 
us how far (in point of executive quality) these latter works 
are behind those of Buxtehude and his school, to which a 
similar impulse had been given by Sweelinck. In these the 
use of the pedal is chiefly confined to long-held bass notes, 
or to slow progressions ; even in Pachelbel it is throughout 
almost the same. Georg Muffat put under the eighth 
toccata of his Apparatus musico-organisticus the words, 

112 For comparison with the following remarks, see Dietrich Buxtehude's 
Sammtliche Orgel-Compositionen, Herausgegeben von Philipp Spitta. Two 
vols., folio. Leipzig: Breitkopf and Hartel, 1875-76. The figures in brackets 
refer to this edition. 


Dii laborious omnia vendunt. This piece, which, in his 
opinion, was of exceptional difficulty, would doubtless have 
been played straight off by men like Buxtehude and Bruhns. 
As in the prelude, so of course in the fugue, the pedal has a 
distinct and independent part, in which, moreover, Buxte- 
hude has, by means of a general plan as characteristic as it 
is important, made room for a still richer development 
that is to say, he usually modifies the theme once, if 
not oftener, in the course of the fugue, and so gives rise to 
ii a fresh treatment. An entire fugue consists in such cases 
of several separate fugues which, regarded as independent 
movements, are generally joined into one by short interludes, 
in which the chief object is bravura display. These new 
forms, in which the first theme only serves as the motive of 
another, are a very remarkable characteristic of the instru- 
mental music of the time. They show that the fundamental 
nature of pure music was then perfectly understood, and 
point onwards to one of the first principles of form in the 
modern sonata, without departing from the proper ground 
of fugal form. The cradle in which this form was preserved 
and fostered was the toccata, and, indeed, we can distinctly 
perceive as it were the sketch of it in the toccatas of 
Froberger. But Buxtehude was of course not the only 
one, even of his period, who adopted this form ; a similarly 
constituted work by Reinken was mentioned above, one too 
by Bruhns is preserved, and it was this which incited Bohm 
to write his organ chorales, which are indeed founded on the 
principle of exhausting each separate line of the tune as a 
distinct motive. In spite of this, however, Buxtehude must 
be called the chief representative and perfecter of this form, 
not only because he has left us the largest number of 
examples of it, but also because he evinces in it that power 
of invention which distinguishes the mind of genius. By 
this he makes up for what his chief subjects lack in beauty 
or animation. 

Thus in one of his greatest organ compositions (Vol. I., 
No. 6), after a very beautiful prelude of sixteen bars of 
common time in E minor, he sets off with the following 
fugal theme : 


When this is gone through he begins afresh with this theme: 

_^ f y- tip- to- feg_ 

JEj^i r ' ' ' ~^^=i T 

After richly elaborating it and introducing a free interlude, 
this subject begins : 

I ..! J 

We see what rule the composer has followed in the formation 
of the second and third themes : he takes out the character- 
istic passage of the chief theme, first the passage from b', the 
fifth to the tonic e' (first bar), from there up to the octave e", 
and down to a' ; secondly, the passage as before from b' to 
e', going straight to a' without going up to the octave. The 
skip of the fourth in the second subject (from c' sharp or c' 
to g sharp), is only apparently anomalous, since Buxtehude 
intended the last semiquaver but one of the first bar in the 
chief subject (d"), and not the following e" to be the note of 
the melody. This last is only an harmonic passing-note, and 
the melody is considered to go from d" to a', which seems to 
have rather a harsh effect, but is not foreign to Buxtehude's 
style. Throughout the whole composition, numbering as it 
does in all 137 full bars, there moves but one and the same 
chief musical identity, notwithstanding the various changes 
of position, mien, and costume ; and the effect is heightened 
by the change of time. From the regularity with which, in | 
Reinken and Bruhns, a two-time is always followed by ai 
three-time, we see another recognised principle of form 
manifesting itself ; the organism must change from the 
grave severity of the beginning to the joyfulness of airy 
motion, and this form is what is aimed at in these three 
sections. The first, which although inwardly agitated, yet 
enters with the external dignity of repose, is followed by the 
second, with its labyrinth of entanglements and profound 


intricacies ; beside this subject there are two counter-subjects, 
the second of which, with its passages in quavers, impels the 
whole to greater animation, and then the first theme appears 
in inversion. Such a network of tones, and one in which 
each mesh stands out with full and clear regularity, notwith- 
standing all the complication, could only be woven by a 
genius for harmonic invention of the highest order. Between 
the second and third sections stands one of those interludes, 
without any strict thematic germ or marked working-out, 
which serve the purpose of halting-places, and have the 
effect of affording a relieving contrast with the strict regu- 
larity of the foregoing piece by an unrestricted playfulness, 
and of refreshing the hearer and preparing him for what is to 
follow. They consist of running passages and broad masses 
of chords, in both of which Buxtehude shows such a clearly 
stamped individuality that his hand may be most easily 
recognised in these interludes. It is he who first introduced 
and brought to perfection those passages to be played without 
regard to time (a discrezione, or ad libitum), which may be 
called organ recitatives; and he, too, was the first to take 
pleasure in employing shakes in several parts at once and 
even on the pedals, and certain passages divided between the 
two hands. It is in the quiet progressions of chords, however, 
that he most prominently shows his harmonic individuality, 
when some startling harmony stands out from those around 
it as a very Fata Morgana, calling up magic imagery, ever 
new and ever transient. After such an intermezzo the 
conclusion of the tone-drama follows in the last fugal 
movement ; the theme goes through the different parts in 
proud magnificence, assuming in the pedals an expression of 
stately grace, and seems to have been intended just for that 
position and for no other. It may be remarked throughout 
how the organ-character speaks from every note of this great 
and remarkable composition. 

A fugue in G minor (Vol. I., No. 7) shows also three 
forms of the theme, but in spite of this similarity in structure 
it is intrinsically quite different. The prelude even is of 
another form. In it there is no ornate subject, but a regular 
fugue-theme carried on through twelve bars of 6-4 time, 


almost the whole of which is on a pedal on G, which only 
alters its position quite at the end, and then goes through 
the theme once in a more ponderous manner, while the 
manual has accompanying chords above. The theme of the 
first fugue which is converted into a double fugue by a 
second subject coming in after the first theme has been 
once gone through is this 

^ ' i u'-t 1 r USE* u ' * 

and the ambiguity of its harmonies must not be overlooked, 
as being a kind of anticipation of Bach. On it, again, is 
built a masterpiece of profound harmonic ingenuity, which 
can only be found fault with on the ground that it displays 
too great a number of combinations in too quick succession, 
and so is not quite fitted to the nature of the organ, of which 
the majestic character requires constant simplicity up to a 
certain point. At any rate, this work of genius demands a 
very quiet rendering to make it clear. In one place the 
inclination to elaborate passages of rich invention round 
about the subject interrupts the calm flow of the polyphony. 
Out of the interval of a fourth, between the second and third 
notes of the theme, grows a dialogue between the upper and 
the two inner parts of four bars long. Then the theme is 
given to the pedals and gone through twice running, after 
which all the parts work back again in the earlier style. 
The melancholy feeling of the whole is carried out by the 
interlude that concludes it, which sinks sadly and dreamily, 
deeper and deeper, into itself. Then it is awakened by 
the first modification of the fugue theme (on the dominant 
of D) 

which works itself several times vigorously and recklessly 
out of the depths, without regard to the entrance of the 
different parts, always rising higher and higher, as in the 
C minor fugue of Bach, mentioned above; regardless, too, 
of harmonic considerations, for a false relation is repeated 


persistently again and again. Then there comes a sudden 
break ; the second modification of the theme begins, and 
the powerful last movement in 3-2 time : 

Of the same kind is another work on a like principle, and 
yet how differently carried out (Vol. I., No. 14). The 
prelude breaks in tempestuously, like the shock of a wave, 
and foams wildly about in passages of thirds and sixths. 
After six bars of 12-8 time there comes in, as though from 
the depths of the sea, a threatening bass-theme : 


This is repeated five times, while the storm rages above: the 
waves toss round and over one another, they part and again 
pile themselves up truly a fantastical and weird conception. 
Forthwith the theme appears in the bass 

severe and heavy, as indeed is the whole fugue. In the inter- 
lude a bass is brought dreamily in on the manual, while 
above it are heard broken chords, which under close exami- 
nation combine to reveal a distinct idea, both as to phras- 
ing and melody, and the melody is heard, like a distant 
song borne upon the wind. Then the pedals come in with 
massive leaps of octaves, with an accompaniment of semi- 
quavers ; the passages are repeated in the right hand, and at 
length lead into the last movement largo, 3-2 : 

This time the three-time brings in no cheerful conclusion 
indeed how could it ? but, in contrast to the weird monotony 
of the foregoing movement, a deep and overwhelming sorrow. 
A fervid and overpowering expression of feeling was at the 


command of the composers of that period, which may be 
called the youth of the art whose manhood is represented by 
Bach and Handel. Johann Christoph Bach's motetts are 
quite steeped in this atmosphere ; many things by Kuhnau, 
and in a high degree also many arias and songs by Erlebach, 
display an intensity of feeling that goes to the heart as 
directly even now as it did two hundred years ago. But 
though Buxtehude is steeped through and through with this 
element, his way of giving it expression is quite distinct, and 
yet not so different but that a resemblance may be perceived. 
Although it is difficult to prove this without going into the 
smallest details of his peculiarities of style, yet it makes 
itself clearly felt, and seems to be accounted for by nothing 
so much as by his Danish extraction. It would be easy to 
draw a comparison between him and a distinguished artist of 
the present day, his countryman, if references to the living 
did not too easily disturb the quiet contemplation of an 
historical picture. Certain it is that this master's manner, 
strange and yet familiar, touching us so remotely and yet so 
nearly, lends a heightened charm to his art. The period 
before Bach was in its early days a period of musical 
romance, and on the instrumental side the greatest roman- 
ticist is Buxtehude. Except his chorales there are very few 
pieces by him in which this characteristic is not prominent ; 
the organ composition in question is quite full of it. The 
movement whose theme was last quoted is especially imbued 
with a longing, a striving after infinity, which is the more 
striking from its struggling with the stubborn material of the 
organ, like Pygmalion's with the cold marble. 

In the prelude and fugue in E major (Vol. I., No. 8) the 
chief theme reappears three times in different forms. The 
modifications, however, are all shortened, and are constructed 
on only the first two notes of the theme, nor is it brought to 
a conclusion in three-time, but in common time, by a short 
fugue closely connected with it. The nature of the piece 
becomes more energetic and more compact up to the very 
end. In subservience to this idea the first fugue is very 
sedate in style, and has its full effect only in conjunction 
with the other parts, though even then a certain rigidity is 



not altogether concealed. 113 As a general rule the theme 
underwent only one modification, and this must be regarded 
as the fundamental form which none but such a richly gifted 
genius as Buxtehude could overstep, and then only occa- 
sionally. The greater number of his compositions are 
confined within these limits, but manifest within them the 
greatest variety. 

Another fugue, also in E minor, 114 with a majestic intro- 
ductory prelude, has this theme 


which, regarded by itself, seems half insignificant and half 
peculiar. On playing further, however, it soon becomes 
clear that, in part at least, this is intentional. The theme 
charms us but little by its own merit, but interests us by its 
harmonic uncertainty, which is made use of cleverly enough 
in the working out. After a short interlude, which, with 
its semiquavers, reminds us of the prelude, there follows this 
modification in 3-4 time: 


The counterpoint in the second bar afterwards becomes the 
motive of some very graceful figures, which gradually extend 
further and further, until at last they usurp the whole 
territory and then lead back into common time. Now 
the semiquaver passage of the prelude reappears, and in 
addition to this some most charming episodes, formed on 
a pedal-figure &* J!p^^ which appeared before as a tri- 
butary ; and they, by degrees, drive everything else into 
the background, securing the last word for themselves. 
Beethoven himself could hardly have done it differently. 

118 This first fugue is in the third volume of A. G. Ritter's Kunst des Orgel- 
spiels, and it was afterwards published in a selection of Buxtehude's works, 
made by Korner. Il was, for the reasons given in the text, not the happiest 

"* Vol. I., No. 13. 


Buxtehude is very fond of such finales as this, by which 
the whole work attains a brilliant conclusion ; and he makes 
frequent use of them. The method is referable to the same 
principle as that by which the rhythmic form resolves itself 
for the most part into three-time, and which aims at cheer- 
fulness and serenity at the end of the piece. We are not 
led up to the heights of art and there left alone, but are 
brought back again to the abodes of men. Since the highest 
forms of instrumental music require a corresponding height 
of subjective isolation, we can see in this a healthy and 
justifiable universal feeling. The same method is followed 
by Mozart, who always lets the hearer depart with a 
pleasant impression, whatever depths of feeling may have 
been previously unveiled to him. Nay, in every instrumental 
form of more than two movements, this tendency should, to 
a certain extent, be followed ; for at the close it is not the 
details that should prevail, but the general sentiment ; 
fitness requires this, in art as in life. And this is adhered 
to no less by Beethoven than by Mozart; no less by the 
Suite-composers, who always gave the last place to the 
lively gigue, than by Alessandro Scarlatti in his overtures 
in three movements. But in relinquishing a form once 
obtained and made clear, and in returning to an arbi- 
trary and unmethodical style, there is certainly a kind of 
retrogression. Here it becomes evident that Buxtehude, in 
spite of all his genius, could not entirely free himself from the 
fault of the school to which he belonged viz., the perpetual 
aiming at effectiveness in performance. That his perorations 
or finales were often in the highest degree interesting and 
full of genius, is amply proved by the composition just 
alluded to. Here, too, he still confines himself within 
moderate limits, and refers so distinctly back to the prelude 
that the proper feeling of cyclic rounding-off is well preserved. 
So is it in the prelude and fugue in D minor (Vol. I., No. 10), 
where the pregnant theme 

T 2 


which afterwards reappears in this form 

is clearly announced in the prelude, kept up in the interlude 
by means of a little imitative passage, and again heard 
quite plainly in the rhythm of the brilliant peroration. So 
much unity of subject is not forthcoming in the prelude 
and fugue in A minor (Vol. I., No. 9), a piece which, 
in consequence of the remarkable relation which it seems 
to bear to one of the fugues in Bach's " Wohltemperirte 
Clavier," will occupy our attention again. In this, how- 
ever, the peroration is not so long as to weaken, in 
any important degree, the impression of the foregoing 
and nobler forms. Of quite different proportions is a 
composition of the same class in F sharp minor (Vol. I., 
No. 12). The prelude begins with semiquaver figures, 
chiefly of a harmonic kind, followed by progressions of 
chords in Buxtehude's genuine manner; then in a grave 
movement the double fugue makes it appearance, and, in 
thematic invention, is one of the master's most beautiful 



As it proceeds it is full of deep expression directly prophetic 
of Bach. After this lovely movement, the second theme 
presents itself vivace, in this form 

is carried through all four parts, and joins to itself the chiet 
subject in this form : 



Soon it modulates into the relative major, which was not 
permitted in the melancholy grave movement; the groups 
of three semiquavers begin to develop themselves more 
and more decidedly as episodes, and the piece, fresh and 
sparkling with genius, rushes on. In the peroration the 
composer gives the reins to his fancy. A remarkably free 
organ recitative is heard, and when at last it returns to a 
half close on the dominant of the original key, there begins 
on the phrases 

f= and 

the most charming series of playful combinations, un- 
wearying and inexhaustible, and with ever-increasing bril- 
liancy and wealth of tone. The perfect unity of the ideas, 
the well-considered changes and progressions of the parts, 
the high degree of contrapuntal dexterity, the brilliant tech- 
nique, bringing into requisition all the qualities of the organ, 
combine to make this composition a true masterpiece of 
German organ music. It cannot be questioned that we here 
find ourselves on a considerable height : whoso would desire 
to climb further must possess the strength and breadth of a 
Sebastian Bach. The aesthetic defect which arises from the 
form of peroration, and especially such a long peroration, is 
not indeed entirely removed by even the most inspired treat- 
ment, but it is considerably modified. 

There are not many organ fugues by Buxtehude which go 
on their way in one movement without any modification of the 
theme. There is one such in F major (Vol. I., No. 15), which 
is introduced by a beautiful prelude, in which, by way of 
exception, there is one change of rhythm viz., it is in 
common time at the beginning and end, and 12-8 time in the 
middle. But the four-time is at the root even of this, so 
that the change is almost imperceptible and does not disturb 
the flow of the piece. The theme is long and characteristic 


and its lively character pervades the whole piece without 
losing itself in harmonic complications. The semiquaver 
figure of the first bar gives ample opportunity for pleasing 
interchanges between the higher and lower registers. The 
inclination, too, to episodical extensions is very evident. 
The influence which this work of Buxtehude's has exercised 
on a great concert fugue of Bach's is unmistakable. 

The form of a great toccata in F major (Vol. I., No. 20) is 
at first sight very varied, but a regular fugue forms the germ 
which, in some degree, provides the material for the sub- 
jects which follow, in so far as they are compressed into 
intelligible forms, and do not ramble about in fantastic 
aimlessness. More cannot be demanded of a form which can 
at most be agreeable and pleasing, though it is fully justified 
when the higher claims of art are not set aside for it. 
The toccatas of Buxtehude are naturally immensely superior 
to those of older masters such as Froberger in variety, 
genius, and effectiveness, and especially in the use of the 
pedal, as has been remarked before with regard to his 
productions in general. 

But our master knew full well the worth of a composition 
that increases in purpose and meaning up to the very end. 
An instance of this is furnished by a great organ compo- 
sition in G minor a perfect model of systematic and well- 
calculated design (Vol. I., No. 5). A short and lively 
prelude begins the work, coming to a close on the dominant; 
then follows a fugato Allegro, a few bars long, on this 
subject : 

To this is added a passage which soars upwards and closes in 
G, the key in which the theme of the principal fugue begins. 
The meaning of this fugato increment is at first obscure, 
as it has no connection with the theme of the fugue, which 
is that subject afterwards so freely used, and which ulti- 
mately became common property : 


It is found again in the second part of the " Wohltemperirte 
Clavier" (No. 20, in A minor), in a string quartet by Haydn, 
in a Requiem by Lotti, in Handel's "Joseph" and "Mes- 
siah," and in Mozart's " Requiem." At the conclusion of the 
fugue, which, in spite of its interest, contains much that is 
unwieldy, a new theme appears in 3-2 time, which bears a 
strong resemblance to the first fugato : 

r I r i r i 

As it goes on the resemblance becomes more decided, and 
at last it is confirmed by this pedal passage, which is 
accompanied by the chord of G minor in the upper parts : 

When the fugue comes to an end, this passage, destined to 
a twelve-fold repetition, like the theme of a chaconne, comes 
to light, the offspring, as it were, of the development of the 
whole : 

This theme is surrounded with a rich counterpoint, which 
brings the whole work to a close. The expectancy created 
by the working in of the fugato movement is completely 
satisfied. The happy thought of developing a fugal idea 
through a lavish rhetorical treatment as it were, closing 
on an irrefragable axiom, and so proving his skill in the 
ever-new relations of the contrapuntal changes, occurred 
once again to Buxtehude, and was employed in a fugue 
with a prelude in C major (Vol. I., No. 4) ; the Ciacona, 
in 3-2 time, stands in the place of the modification of 
the theme which was formerly in use. Closely allied to 
the Ciacona, or Chaconne, is the Passacaglio. Both were 
originally dance forms, in which a short bass theme of 
two, four, or, at the most, eight bars was incessantly 
repeated. The opportunities which they afforded for 
building upon them ever-changing combinations of counter- 
point, made them a favourite subject with composers for 



organ or clavier. What we are told of their characteristic 
differences by writers of that time is altogether contradic- 
tory, and of no authority whatever. 115 Even the composers 
themselves seem to have held the most various opinions. 
Buxtehude, however, established for himself a difference 
between Passacaglio and Ciacona, which is also noticeable 
in a chaconne by Bohm namely, that in the first the 
theme is always the true bass, and remains unaltered 
throughout, while in the latter it may go into any of the 
parts, and be subjected to the most various adornments and 
variations so long as it remains recognisable throughout. 
According to this, we must call the concluding movement of 
the G minor fugue " alia Ciacona," since the theme wanders 
freely about among the parts, and once is even quite lost 
among the figurations. We also possess two chaconnes and 
one passecaille as independent works, which for beauty and 
importance take the precedence of all the works of the 
kind at that time, and are in the first rank of Buxtehude's 
compositions. His individual style of harmony unfolds 
itself here in all its fulness and intensity of expression, and 
the hearer is overpowered by the melting sweetness of its 
melancholy. All three works are pervaded with the same 
feeling, but, in spite of this, they are very different in expres- 
sion the very first bars decide this. Of the two chaconnes 
that in C minor is the more impassioned. It is a work full 
of wailing longing (Vol. I., No. 2) : 


STB 1 

116 See, for instance, Mattheson, Vollkommener Capellmeister, p. 233, com- 
pared with his Neu eroffnetes Orchestre, p. 185, and Walther's Lexicon, under 
*' Passacaglio." 



The second chaconne, in E minor (Vol. I., No. 3), is like 
a ballad, in which the agitation of the speaker, about some 
mournful or gloomy subject, is concealed beneath the objec- 
tive aspect of the form in which it is told ; still it is distinctly 
felt throughout. The modulation to G major, especially in 
the second bar, bears the stamp of outward equanimity, and 
even as the piece proceeds the increasing motion has an 
external and narrative effect. But that it is so only in 
appearance is clear even at the beginning: witness the 
upper melody with its lovely swing and its well-chosen 
rhythm and harmony, which is capable of the deepest ex- 
pression, though it is almost immediately repressed : 

The working-out after the first eight bars is excellently 
introduced. From the ninth bar onward it soars bravely out- 
wards and upwards into the world, with so free a flight that 
the indissoluble chain of the subject in the bass is wholly 


forgotten. Later on the feeling resembles more distinctly 
an inevitable destiny from whose charmed circle there is 
no escape. Though it may sometimes be concealed, or 
partially disappear, at the decisive moment it is always in 
its place. Of the richness of invention displayed by the 
composer in the ever-new superstructures no description can 
be attempted ; in the middle there is a series of harmonies, 
evolved by chromatic reverse motion between the upper and 
lower parts, the possibility of which had been scarcely dreamt 
of before Buxtehude. 

The warmth of feeling restrained in this chaconne breaks 
forth with redoubled strength in the passecaille in D minor 
(Vol. I., No. i). The broad rhythm at once points to this, 
and the form of the bass theme 

Sfef[=gM 9^=^=^-^^=^==^= 

which transfers itself in so impressive a manner into the 
dominant. The passecaille consists of four sections almost 
exactly of the same length, of which the first is in D minor, 
the second in F major, the third in A minor, and the last 
again in D minor. This subdivision gives rise to the 
only fault that can be found; the sections might have 
been welded together in a more imperceptible manner by 
smoother modulations, while as it is they stand side by 
side, only bound together by quite short, modulatory 
interludes. For the rest, the composition is above all re- 
proach ; one would fain say above all praise also. It is not 
only that the strict form goes hand in hand with melodic 
animation, than which none greater or more individual 
can be conceived of; but also there is no piece of music of 
that time known to me which surpasses it, or even approaches 
it, in affecting, soul-piercing intensity of expression. 

What has been said will suffice to make the importance of 
Buxtehude's independent organ works very evident. They 
are, as they might be expected to be in a collection put 
together by mere chance, of unequal artistic merit, and some 
of them have not much more than a historical interest. On 
the whole, however, they have no reason to fear comparison 


with the highest standard of all ; that, namely, derived from 
Bach's masterpieces. There can be no doubt that the latter 
far surpassed Buxtehude, but his advance was, at the same 
time, a step in another direction, although he used and 
appropriated the acquisitions of the earlier master. A just 
estimate demands that, as Mozart's symphonies stand their 
ground next to those of Beethoven, so too Buxtehude, with 
his preludes and fugues, his chaconnes and passecailles, 
should retain his place next to Bach. When an art is 
approaching its highest stage of development, the relations 
between its component parts are no longer so clearly defined 
that one can be said to absorb the others into itself, and 
so assert its own individual importance. Only the foun- 
dations of an edifice are invisible; the building itself rises 
into the air, and is then adorned with numerous gables 
and towers. One is wont to overtop the others, but if 
the architect understands his business he will reach his 
full effect only with the aid, and partly by means, of 
all. The technique of the organ had already reached 
such a point of development by the time of Buxtehude's 
full power, and chiefly by his agency, that it cannot 
altogether be said that Bach had to open out entirely 
new paths. He brought what he received to its highest 
perfection, but it was in that mainly that he found the means 
of utterance for his inspired ideas. Buxtehude's mental 
horizon may have been more confined, his talent less pro- 
lific ; but what he had to say and that was of great import- 
ance and all his own he could say in a form utterly perfect, 
and so reach the ideal of a work of art, so far as it is ever 
possible to do so. It will be seen later on that Bach, with 
perfect comprehension of the state of affairs, essayed himself 
only in a transitory manner in the special forms cultivated 
with such mastery by Buxtehude, on which, however, he 
left the stamp of his genius without in any essential degree 
towering above his predecessor. This is especially true of 
the chaconne and the passecaille. All that he has of greater 
profundity and concentration in his famous work of the latter 
class, the other master makes up for in depth of expression 
and youthful fervour. Bach, it is true, possessed this fervour 


and depth in the highest degree, but it came to the surface 
with more difficulty, and for the most part lay hidden in 
the depths, pervading and vivifying all. Still this very 
characteristic is the token that both stand on the highest 
step of the art of organ music. 

It is a constantly recurring phenomenon in history that the 
creations of human genius, when they have been developed in 
any given direction to the greatest possible perfection, begin 
to show some essential reaction, which overpowers and seeks 
to ruin them, and so forms the germ of a new and quite diffe- 
rent evolution. Not always, but very frequently, in Bux- 
tehude we meet with forms which seem quite to thirst after 
the true soul of music, although it is quite indisputable that 
they were intended for the mechanical, soulless material of 
the organ. In the second bar of the chaconne in E minor, 
the beginning of which is quoted above, there is no apparent 
reason why the composer should not have allowed the upper 
part to coincide with the second part on g' on the third beat 
of the bar since it would sound the same to the hearer as 
what is written now unless it be that he wishes to express, 
as well as he can, the way in which the melody occurred to 
him, and that he had more to say than he could express. 
The indications of his having in his mind some instru- 
ment more capable of expression are so strong in these 
passages that they seem, if played on a modern pianoforte, 
as though they were written for it. If we only attempt 
it we shall be convinced that it is utterly impossible 
to reflect the deep expression which everywhere rises to the 
surface, without the employment of shades in execution, and 
even that will scarcely suffice ; we shall feel impelled to call 
in the aid of song. Pachelbel^in consequence of his acquisi- 
tions from Southern art, approaches far more nearly to the 
true simple essence of organ music; indeed he was the 
real inventor of the organ chorale, which by its nature 
strives after the most purely subjective expression, and, 
although the younger of the two, he more nearly attains 
this than Buxtehude. Their difference of age was equalised, 
however, by the enervated state of Germany after the 
war. Though she did indeed succeed in producing a Buxte- 


hude, this was hardly possibly before the time at which 
Pachelbel also was born. Thus the only contrast between 
them is that between the North and the South, and we 
can see, without need of further remark, how they converged, 
and met half-way Buxtehude's restless intensity towards 
Pachelbel's chorale, Pachelbel's quiet restfulness towards 
Buxtehude's free organ composition. Bach united these 
contrasts in himself. But he felt Pachelbel's influence 
through the medium of the Thuringian masters, who had 
already amalgamated his spirit with their own ; besides, his 
nature was German to the core, and more allied to the 
romantic than the classic element. For this reason he stands 
not exactly between and above them, but somewhat nearer 
to the Liibeck master; and, for the same reason, not below 
him either, but to a certain extent beside him, and more so 
than Pachelbel. 

That subjective warmth which a hundred years later was 
destined to call forth in antithesis to this first a second 
golden age of German instrumental music, glowed also in 
Bach, and in an infinitely higher degree than in any of his 
predecessors or contemporaries. It did not, indeed, gush 
forth so unrestrainedly as in Buxtehude's case, but was kept 
powerfully in check, influencing and permeating all that he 

The number of Buxtehude's organ chorales which remain 
is almost twice as many, and we are indebted to Walther's 
diligence for the greater number of them. To Bach's 
collection we can ascribe at the most those three which his 
pupil, Johann Ludwig Krebs, has preserved in his two books, 
for organ and clavier respectively. It stands to reason, in 
the case of so great a master, that his works, even of this class, 
are, to say the least, not to be slighted. His natural inclina- 
tion to pure music led him, indeed, like all the organ com- 
posers of the northern school, to disregard the poetic 
intensifying of the organ chorale. What there may be of this 
poetic feeling is, as it were, only by the way, and is based on 
no definite principle. But the organ chorale has become, and 
must remain, too closely united with the hymn to be treated 
only on musical principles. It is in fact founded on the sup- 


position that the melody at least of the chorale shall be plainly 
heard throughout in its original form, so that the hearer may 
easily trace it through the more elaborate figures of the 
organ arrangement, and that what the latter lacks in organic 
development from its own materials may be supplied by a 
reference to the original air. Thus it was only the natural 
outcome of an indwelling germ when Pachelbel extended 
these conditions, as he could not evade them, by applying 
them to the poetic meaning of the chorale melody, and thus 
winning new material for musical forms. 

Buxtehude came only half-way to this point, and so all 
that his inventive genius did in this form must of necessity 
have a more superficial character. Full of genius, brilliant, 
effective in the best sense these are the most just epithets 
to apply to his chorale arrangements. These qualities are 
most prominent in the cases where the lines of the chorale 
are treated in the manner of motetts, as we have before 
called this method of treatment an expression which is 
meant to denote the preponderance of polyphony in contra- 
distinction to Bohm's manner of using the phrases as melodic 
episodes. To this method belong the three pieces, " Nun 
freut euch, lieben Christen g'mein," " Gelobet seist du, Jesu 
Christ," " Herr Gott, dich loben wir," works of the grandest 
dimensions, resembling those by Reinken and Liibeck, which 
we have mentioned before. Thus the first of these begins 
with a movement of no bars common time, then 22 bars 
of 3-2 time, then 18 bars of 12-8, ending with 107 bars 
common time, consisting of rich semiquaver figures 257 
bars in all ! certainly one of the longest existing composi- 
tions for the organ. The simultaneous employment of 
two manuals, differing in power and quality of tone, is a 
favourite device of Buxtehude's in this case as in others 
for he lays great stress on individual effects of tone. 
This, indeed, is a characteristic of the school. We here 
meet with the effect used so happily also by Bach, of 
giving the melody to the pedal in the tenor part, with 
eight-foot or eight and four-foot stops. In common with 
Reinken he has made use of the doubled pedal part. 
This was afterwards turned to account by Bach in the finest 


forms of his organ music, although in this he had been 
anticipated in a scarcely less wonderful manner by Bruhns, 
of whose composition a perfect fugue with two-part obbligato 
pedals has been preserved. 116 Buxtehude is very fond of 
the double fugue-form, so he is wont to oppose indepen- 
dent themes to the lines of the chorale and to work them 
both together. Especially fine in this respect is a work on 
" Ich dank dir schon durch deinen Sohn," in which a piece 
of 154 full bars is developed from a short four-line chorale. 
The first and third lines are treated fugally with strettos in 
the old-fashioned way, the latter in double counterpoint; the 
first gives an opportunity, by a slight chromatic alteration, 
for the most surprising and genuine Buxtehude harmonies. 
The second and fourth lines are also treated fugally, but each 
has two independent themes, with which it undergoes every 
possible combination in double counterpoint on the octave ; 
these themes are very characteristically invented, but con- 
tain harsh passages which grate upon the ear. 

The arrangement of the chorale " Ich dank dir, lieber 
Herre," is in part more artistic, but in part, too, more 
simple. The first line is gone through in a quiet four-part 
movement, as if accompanying the voices for the service; the 
second follows allegro, worked episodically, and then fugally 
treated, first in two and then in three parts, with a stretto 
between the two parts. Then the first line in diminution 
becomes the theme of a fugue which is gone through in 
the proper way ; at the end the pedal is heard through the 
fabric of the fugue with the subject in augmentation ; this is 
followed as before by the fugue on the second line but with 
richer treatment. Then the remaining lines are gone through 
with their independent themes, the two last being in 6-4 time. 
It is evident that the composer set himself the task of 
inventing something outwardly new, as far as possible, for 
each line, and that he attached more importance to manifold 
variety than to unity of feeling. For this reason his most 

116 Commer, Musica Sacra, I., No. 5. There is also given, under No. 6, a 
chorale arrangement by Bruhns on " Nun komm der Heiden Heiland," which 
is quite like the great chorales of Buxtehude in style. 


successful pieces are those in which he displays the full 
brilliancy of his technique, which keeps the feeling more 
on the surface; for he becomes restless and fatiguing when 
he tries to be effective by contrapuntal treatment only. 
Buxtehude understood perfectly how to treat a simple 
long-drawn-out chorale with uninterrupted counterpoint, 
and if he scarcely ever prevailed upon himself to keep 
to one and the same figure throughout, like Pachelbel, 
yet he took great care that the flow of the work should 
nowhere be allowed to stagnate. 117 With a view to a new 
effect, he sometimes united the two forms ; as, for example, 
in an arrangement of " Nun lob mein Seel den Herren," 
where first the chorale is gone straight through in the 
upper part with continuous counterpoint, then treated line 
by line, and lastly given to the pedal, and there gone 
through without interruption against fine animated passages 
in the upper parts. 

The same method is followed in the chorale " Wie 
schon leucht't uns der Morgenstern," 118 in which the 
melody, beginning in the manual-bass, goes into the upper 
part at the repetition of the first section of the tune, and 
two sets of ascending passages of triplets soar upwards 
between the short lines of the second section. The descend- 
ing scale of the last line is now thoroughly worked out 
in 6-8 time (changes of time are seldom wanting in his 
greater organ chorales), then the whole chorale is once 
more gone through in 12-8 time, while animated fugal 
themes are formed chiefly from the lines of the tune, 
and are worked out in uninterrupted connection. It seems 
that he wrote but few chorale fugues properly so-called, 
preferring to invent his themes for himself. 119 But he 
created a special type of shorter two-manual chorales, 
which are treated not with a full working out, but with 

117 Compare the chorale "Jesus Christus unser Heiland," Vol. II., Part II., 
No. 15. 

" 8 See Vol. II., Part I., No. 8. 

119 Korner, loc. cit., p. 8, gives one which I also consider genuine, chiefly 
because some of the master's little peculiarities appear in it. 


a single enunciation of the melody. This is played or 
one of two manuals, arranged in contrast to one another, 
and receives grace notes and ornamentations, but no 
episodical extension as is the case in Bohm's work. 
With this the other manual and the pedal have counter- 
point, which is never confined to a particular figure. 
Between the lines there are short interludes, sometimes 
consisting of free imitation, sometimes taking their shape 
from the beginning of the next line, according to the 
fancy, and in these the pedals generally lead. Interludes 
based upon the subject of the following line are also a 
characteristic of Pachelbel's chorales, but, notwithstanding, 
the two forms have nothing to do with one another nay, 
they are rather in direct contrast. Here there is no attempt 
at the ideal unity which Pachelbel kept in view, nor any 
trace of consistent uniformity throughout. Buxtehude aims 
solely at the adornment of each separate line in an agreeable 
manner, at ingenuity of harmony, and at giving an especial 
colour by clever interchange of the manuals, and sometimes, 
too, by doubling the pedal part. This composer, who was 
so great in the organic forms of pure music, entirely lost his 
characteristics when he ventured on the poetic treatment 
of the organ chorale ; for when we do not know the 
melody which he has treated, it is often quite impossible 
to discover any plan whatever in his chorales of more 
than four lines long. Buxtehude only directed his view 
to details; it was not given to him to find the happy 
medium, and to show the whole form of the chorale 
underneath the flowery ornamentation with which he 
loaded each separate portion. In the organ chorale it must, 
indeed, be always left to the hearer to supply part of the 
inner unity, but there are musical means by which even this 
may be made felt. Apparently Buxtehude did not attempt, 
in any way, to reflect the chorale organism in his own 
subjective feeling, and only availed himself of an outward 
unity in order to give the reins to his inventive faculty for 
details. It is fundamentally the same as in his greater 
works, only that in them great independent tone pictures 
were formed from each line, which, as such, were more 



readily connected musically with each other ; while here the 
musical relation of the lines of the melody is interrupted, 
without any such compensation being offered beyond a 
cleverly written movement. How similar the radical prin- 
ciple in the two cases actually is we can most easily see 
where the episodical interludes are somewhat more worked 
out. In these cases small fugal movements on the separate 
lines begin as if of themselves, and among these the upper 
part, which comes in last of all, and to which the melody 
is always given, appears only as the last among its fellows, 
and not as the end and aim of the whole development, 
which should come prominently forward and dwarf all else 
by its presence. 120 Viewed, however, from the composer's 
standpoint, even these works afford much refined and artistic 
gratification. Even in Central Germany this was afterwards 
acknowledged by competent judges like Adlung and Walther. 
Adlung did full justice to them when he said " Buxtehude 
set chorales very beautifully." 121 Walther testified his admi- 
ration by writing out more than thirty of them. His interest 
in Buxtehude, however, has partly a personal foundation, in 
the intercourse he had, when young, with Buxtehude's friend 
Andreas Werkmeister. The latter gave him also "many a 
lovely clavier piece of the ingenious Buxtehude's compo- 
sition," 122 which we must envy him, and grieve that he has 
left us none of them, unless we include amongst them that 
suite on the chorale "Auf meinen lieben Gott" (Vol. II., 
Part II., No. 33), which was mentioned before, and which 
only raises our desires still higher. 

Turning now to Buxtehude's vocal compositions, only 
cursory attention need be paid to the five "Hochzeitsarien" 
wedding arias before mentioned. 128 They are songs in 
strophes, with ritornels in the fashion of the time ; a harpsi- 

uo See, for instance, Vol. II., Part II., Nos. 20 and 22. 

121 Anleitung zur mus. Gel., p. 693. 

128 Walther, quoted in Mattheson Ehrenpforte, p. 388. 

128 In parts, in the Town Library at Liibeck. They date in order as follows: 
June 2, 1673; March i, 1675; July 8, 1695 ; March 14, 1698; September 7, 


chord accompaniment alone is indicated, excepting to the 
earliest, where two viole da gamba with one voice and the 
spinet-bass compose a subject in four parts. The third and 
fourth are set to Italian texts, and it is clearly to be seen 
how the foreign method of singing had at that time begun to 
influence even these forms. The melodies are very sweet, 
and particularly well adapted to the Italian words. There 
is a distinct advance observable in the five pieces, the second 
representing most purely the old German aria, while the 
last betrays the sixty-eight years of the composer's age. In 
the ritornels, too, it may be noticed that those to the two 
first arias are simply five-part subjects treated as fugues (at 
the close of the second a decrescendo from for te through piano 
to pianissimo has a very good effect) ; in the others they are 
short and in three parts, and in Nos. 3 and 4 a little dance is 
appended, as was a favourite practice later, namely, a minuet 
and a gigue. 

But his concerted church music deserves more attention, 
for we already know that an artistic task, to which he 
attached great importance, was the conduct of the " Abend- 
musik " at Liibeck ; and these compositions played no small 
part in gaining him fame. The original printed editions are 
for the present lost, but we have a substitute in the form of a 
beautiful MS. copy, which was written, at any rate in part, 
under the superintendence of the master. It shows traces of 
revision more or less important by his own hand, and con- 
tains some of the evening music pieces perhaps actually 
some of those that were printed. 124 

Hitherto no opportunity has offered for a full investigation 
of the state of church music generally at that period. Joh. 
Christoph Bach's great choral work, " Es erhob sich ein 
Streit," is of quite another stamp, and Michael Bach's " Ach 
bleib bei uns, Herr Jesu Christ," remained but half developed 
from the motett. What was before glanced at, as to Sebas- 
tian Bach's first attempt, may here very properly be enlarged 
upon, since Buxtehude's church compositions are not only 

124 See Appendix A, No 13. 

U 2 


interesting in themselves, but admirable representatives of 
their species ; moreover, they will serve as a fitting back- 
ground to Bach's work. 

The form of church music accompanied by instruments 
or, as I shall henceforth call it, the older Church Cantata 
which was the predominant form from 1670 to 1700, resulted 
from a combination of the different forms of church music 
which had previously been in use separately. How the text 
was commonly constructed has already been told. The 
musical forms most in use were the aria, for one or more 
voices ; the arioso, that is to say, the older type of recita- 
tive, as it was introduced by Schutz and then preserved 
nearly unaltered; and concerted choral-singing, in several 
parts ; besides these, certain timid attempts at a few modes 
of treatment borrowed from organ music. These were used 
alternately, and it was optional whether an introductory 
instrumental piece should precede them. Rich polyphony 
was not much in use ; this branch of art had almost dis- 
appeared with the extinction in Germany of the old tenden- 
cies and views, and could not be recovered till new paths 
were thrown open. The soft and elementary melody of 
the time, with its generally homophonous treatment, the 
poverty of development in the forms in use, and, wherever 
the sections were of any length, the frequent changes of 
time ; finally, the formless and fragmentary arioso, which 
grew more spun out, give the older cantatas a sentimental 
and personal character ; and those who seek in the music 
of the period the reflection and counterpart of pietism must 
seek it in these, and not in Bach's cantatas. 

The first in the collection of Buxtehude's cantatas is 
founded on the following series of texts "Whatsoever ye 
do in word or deed, do all in the Name of the Lord Jesus, 
giving thanks to God and the Father by Him " (Colossians 

iii. 17): 

Dir, dir, Hochster, dir alleine, 

Alles, Allerhbchster dir, 

Sinne, Krafte und Begier 

Ich nur aufzuopfern meine. 

Alles sei, nach aller Pflicht, 

Nur zu deinem Preis gericht't, &c. 


Thine and Thine alone, Most Holy, 
All, O Lord Most High, be Thine; 
Heart and soul before Thy shrine, 
Here I offer, poor and lowly. 
Due to Thee is all I own, 
And I bring it to Thy Throne, &c. 

" Delight thou in the Lord ; and He shall give thee thy 
heart's desire" (Psalm xxxvii. 4). Then follow the two 
last verses of the hymn " Aus meines Herzens Grunde," 
and at the close the text from the Bible is repeated. 

No indication as to its use on any Sunday or holy-day 
is given with either of the cantatas, and the one under 
discussion seems not to have been composed for such a 
purpose, but for some special occasion, perhaps a wedding. 
The instrumental accompaniment consists of two violins, 
two violas, bass, and organ, for a five-part treatment was 
more usual than four parts, and when the chorus consisted 
of four voices the first violin added a fifth part, lying above. 
The cantata is in G major, and is introduced by a sonata 
consisting of nine slow bars of common time, with very 
lovely, soft, and original harmonies, and a presto in 3-4 
time, which works out the same motive in imitation. 
Sonata and sinfonia originally meant the same thing, as 
applied t an introductory instrumental movement. The 
former term subsequently fell into disuse for this, as it 
began to be used for other instrumental pieces. However, 
it was still retained when the prelude was to display that 
essential harmonic character which originally distinguished 
Gabrieli's sonatas, while the name sinfonia came into 
general use, particularly as, with the progress made 
in time, a more polyphonic animation was introduced. 
Perhaps the radical meaning of the words may have helped 
in this, since in the sonata the chief importance was given to 
unity of effect, and in the sinfonia to the parts, which by 
their combination produced the harmonies. And though 
that form of sacred prelude in two sections, which betrayed 
the influence of the French overture, was often called a 
sonata, this is perhaps most easily accounted for by as- 
suming that the name was taken from the first movement, 


which was always to be broad and sonorous in effect. But 
the second portion also frequently preserved this character, 
so that the upper parts only carried on a series of imitations 
of each other, and the lower ones filled out the harmony. 
It was thus that the introductory sonata to Joh. Christoph 
Bach's " Es erhob sich ein Streit " was constructed, and 
so also is this one by Buxtehude. It may be remembered 
that Sebastian Bach, in the same way, prefixed a sonata to 
the Easter cantata of 1704. 

The first text is here sung by the chorus in four parts. 
It is almost purely homophonic, and at first each syllable 
has a note, but afterwards a few figures and very simple 
imitations occur. The somewhat meagre method of spin- 
ning out the melodic thread by repeating the same musical 
phrase, sometimes in a higher and sometimes in a lower 
register, is unfortunately characteristic of Buxtehude's vocal 
compositions. Here again, however, we may convince 
ourselves to how great a degree the natural conditions 
of the instrument employed supply the standard for the 
form. The same master whom we lately saw wandering 
through the mazes of counterpoint in organ fugues, here 
does not venture beyond the simplest combinations. As 
we consider these unadorned forms, it becomes clear how 
much was left to be done by a genius like Bach in this 
very branch of art, and why the greatest organist that 
ever lived nevertheless directed his powers as composer 
principally to vocal music. The three verses of the hymn 
are set to an aria in four parts, with a ritornel for two 
violins and a bass; the melody is very pleasing but trivial, 
and, like the words, lacking in depth. Then follows an 
arioso for the bass, in E minor, on the words " Delight 
thou in the Lord," where we at once perceive that speeches 
from the Bible, if they were to be given to a solo voice, had 
to be treated in this way, since no other available form 
as yet existed for them. Thus it is not singular that Bach 
should have adopted the same method in his Easter cantata ; 
but in the repetition of a melodic phrase in gradual ascent or 
descent as for instance is done in the tenor arioso " Entsetzet 
euch nicht," and in the progressions in thirds in the bass voice 


and basso-continuo, which come in in the first subject and 
elsewhere, and which are such a blemish in part-writing 
we may trace the influence of an earlier master. Buxtehude's 
arioso has some analogy to both these, but it is otherwise 
full of really consolatory feeling, and its modest beginning, 
accompanied merely by the organ, serves as the blank page 
for displaying a flash of talent of the greatest brilliancy ; for, 
after it has closed on the e, the whole body of violins comes 
in at the topmost register, and sinks slowly and grandly 
through intoxicating harmonies, like celestial dews on the 
thirsty earth, coming down at last on G major below, on 
which the hopeful chorale at once begins, " Gott will ich 
lassen rathen " "To God's good counsel leave it ": 


- g ~- J, *U j 


9^ =? 

TJ _ ^r'r 1 : - 
-i >, f \-~ f*\ - i ^ 


rf5 ^ %B |f J 


["5= s^ 

^^~" r [ ^ 



=* 1 1 

The organ must be imagined as playing softly, and particu- 
larly as supporting the bass by the use of a sixteen-foot stop. 
One verse is then sung by the soprano alone, the second 
by four voices, very originally and softly harmonised ; for 
some time the organ alone accompanies, while the instru- 
ments come in with interludes between the lines, till at last 
they continue throughout, enriching the subject both in 
quality and harmony. In the last bar but two the first 
violin soars up in ecstasy and then sinks again ; to conclude, 


the first chorus is repeated, but is prefaced by a slow intro 
duction full of rapturous feeling, beginning thus : 

^agu. J , 

fe- =| 


f* r 
d- - 1 


Compare bars four to six of the beginning to Bach's Easter 
cantata ; we here and elsewhere find the prototype of its 
separate chords and abrupt harmonies. There is yet another 
sacred sinfonia by Bach which quite preserves Buxtehude's 
style : it preludes the grand chorale cantata, " Christ lag in 
Todesbanden," 125 but can hardly have been composed for this; 
it must have been transferred from some earlier work. The 
final chorus in this instance is somewhat richer, and displays 
a pleasing and engaging polyphonic treatment of a thoroughly 
agreeable character. 

The second cantata is undoubtedly an " Abendmusik," 
composed for the second Sunday in Advent. It treats of the 
Second Coming of Christ to the Judgment, and has a vein of 
pomp and mysticism. The means employed are considerable, 
consisting of a five-part choir, three violins, two violas, three 
cornets, three trombones, two trumpets, bassoon, double-bass, 
and organ. With this body of sound Buxtehude has con- 
structed one of his grand massive compositions. A symphony 
begins in D major, of which the theme is taken up by a 
flourish of trumpets ; the violins and trumpets are used for 
alternate contrast, but the trumpets are played con sordini, an 
effect of tone intended to increase the mysterious feeling. 121 
Then the soprano comes in in the same key, with a well- 
considered accompaniment of only the stringed quartet and 
the organ with bassoon, singing the words of the hymn "Ihr 
lieben Christen, freut euch nun " " Ye faithful Christians 
now rejoice," but to the melody of " Nun lasst uns den 

" B.-G.,I.,p. 97. 

ISM Walther says of the trumpets con sordini, that they sounded " quite soft, 
as if they were far away." 


Leib begraben " " Let us now put off this body," a 
deeper sentiment, leading us beyond the gates of death ; 
this selection anticipates an equally significant instance by 
Bach himself. This chorale is an exact transcript, for the 
soprano and stringed instruments, of Buxtehude's small 
organ chorale for two claviers, and its real importance 
attaches to the application of the organ character to vocal 
music. For here the principle comes to light which was 
destined to give to Protestant church music both a new form 
and a new spirit. In the place of the first manual, which 
gave out the melody, we have the voice ; and in the place of 
the second manual and pedal, the orchestra. Whatever is 
praiseworthy in the organ chorale reappears here to greater 
advantage, beautiful effects of tone from the soprano lying 
high and clear above the shifting tangle of the instruments 
and the rich and ingenious harmonies, as the morning rises 
above the mists of the plain. Moreover, the chorale melody 
naturally stands out as the principal subject, by means of the 
voice and words, far more distinctly than it could on the organ, 
where also its significant simplicity is overburdened with 
colour ; and the passages in canon in the bass, which on the 
organ are only confusing, here appear as charming subsidiary 
themes. But the want of plan in the counterpoint, and the 
want of proportion in the care given to the effects of the 
body of tone, as compared to the interests of the independent 
existence of the single parts, remain the same as in the organ 
piece. At first the rhythm of the theme of the symphony is 
well pronounced above the varying movement of the instru- 
ments, but it soon becomes indistinct and shadowy, and 
presently vanishes altogether, giving way to vague fancies. 
To the eye such contrapuntal treatment gives at once an 
impression of disorder; still, when played and sung, it all 
sounds well and accurately written, but the real basis of 
satisfaction is lacking. Pachelbel, who also made an attempt 
to transfer his organ chorales to vocal music, of course, from 
his natural temperament, produced something more ideal and 
profound, as the fifth verse of the cantata on " Was Gott thut, 
das ist wohlgethan," which may be termed masterly. The 
succeeding chorus stands in well-considered contrast to the 


movement just described. It opens with all the splendour of 
the full body of tone in the rousing shout, " Behold the Lord 
cometh with ten thousands of His saints, to execute judg- 
ment upon all" (Jude, 14, 15). It starts in majestic chords 
and then passes into a fugato, which is more important for 
the dramatic way in which it is conceived and for the mix- 
ture of qualities of tone than for polyphonic art. This 
theme, for instance 

mit viel tau ------- send 

is repeated in incessant alternation by the voices, the violins, 
and the trumpets, at first in single parts, but soon in two 
and three, and still only moving from the tonic to the domi- 
nant and back. A picture is borne in on the fancy of the ten 
thousand saints riding forth after Christ, hither and thither 
from all the corners of heaven, ever more and more rising 
above and beyond those in front, and each host more glorious 
than the last. A grand effect is also produced when the 
choir sings the words " Gericht zu halten," with only the 
organ accompaniment, in alternate semi-chorus ; and then, 
all at once, the whole body of tone comes in with full force. 
Here again we see a prototype of Handel's treatment. A 
blaring instrumental symphony of eleven bars follows ; then 
we hear a mysterious bass arioso, "Behold I come quickly, 
and My reward is with Me" (Revelation xxii. 12), accom- 
panied only by the organ and two trumpets con sordini, which 
die away in the final passages, so that the image fades like 
a vision. Until now the fundamental key has never been 
abandoned. The next movement for alto, tenor, bass, 
three violins, two violas, and figured bass is in A major, 
but it is the weakest in the cantata. It shows how 
incapable composers were as yet of animating grand forms 
with corresponding spirit. The verses of the hymn which 
supplies the foundation are repeated line for line with little 
imitations; then each time an instrumental ritornel is 
brought in, sounding very stiff and ungainly, however, in 


its six parts. The best that can be said of it is that it helps 
to produce remarkable contrasts of tone. The solemn peal 
of the muffled trumpets follows the union of the subdued 
voices with the swaying tones of the violins, and, above the 
trumpets, two clear soprano voices sing a fugal " Amen." 
Buxtehude always knew how to round off his work ; so, to 
close, he returns to the chorale of the beginning 

Ei, lieber Herr, eil zum Gericht, 
Lass sehn dein herrlich Angesicht, 
Das Wesen der Dreifaltigkeit ! 
Das hilf uns, Gott, in Ewigkeit 1 

Yea, Lord, come quickly, judge and seal! 
Thy glorious countenance reveal 
The presence of the Trinity ! 
And guide us through eternity. 

It strides on in 3-2 time and in full magnificence ; the first 
violin throws in a sixth part high above the chorus, and 
between the sections of the melody the trumpets come in 
with a fanfare. A lively "Amen" ends the chorale, consisting 
of a light alternation of imitations between the chorus and 
instruments. The reader will at once perceive that we have 
here the exact prototype of the closing chorale of Bach's 
Easter cantata. 

The third, calculated for massive effects, is written only 
on three verses of the book of Sirach (Ecclus.), 1. 24-26. 
It has no solos, and the choral portions again display the 
inaptitude of the period for such undertakings. No com- 
poser had hitherto dared, ^Eolus-like, to unchain the spirits 
of music and to set them free to rush tumultuously over the 
broad ocean of sound ; although in Buxtehude's organ-works, 
they are heard already hurtling against the door of their 
prison. Instead of this, small motives are brought in 
which, separately, never dare to contradict or even to assert 
themselves, but which show much spirit when all are 
working together, though after every little effort they have 
to be refreshed by a ritornel. In the middle is a five-part 
arioso with the organ, " Which exalteth our days from the 
womb, and dealeth with us according to His mercy," 


of the same type as the three-part arioso in Bach's 
cantata. In the third part the time is very much varied ; 
3-2, common time, 3-4, common time, 3-4, 3-2, 3-4, succeed 
each other, and then the first ritornel and chorus are repeated. 
This unrest is highly subjective, reminding us of Christian 
Flor's Musikalisches Seelenparadies, 127 and if the composer 
were not Buxtehude, we might call it amateurish. 

While a quotation from the Bible is the sole text of the 
third cantata, only hymns are employed in the fifth and 
sixth. The former depicts the joys of the blest in the next 
world in the manner of the Song of Solomon, and in the 
poetically rapturous but sentimental language and feeling of 
the pietistic hymns. The fifth verse is as follows : 

Die Rosen neigen 
Sich von den Zweigen 
Ins giildne Haar 
Der Auserwahlten 
Und Gottvermahlten : 
Seht, nehmet wahr 1 
Sie kommt die Schone, 
Dass man sie krone, 
Ihr Heiland ist, 
Den sie zum Lohne, 
Zum Lohn, zur Krone 
Hat auserkiest. 

The roses bending 
Are softly twining 
Among her hair. 
She is the chosen, 
The bride and loved one, 
And she is fair. 
Behold, she cometh, 
And we will crown her ; 
It is her Lord, 
Who deigns to own her, 
With bliss to crown her, 
For her reward. 

The musician has set all nine verses, but it is only in 
the first and last, where large masses of sound are handled 
with but little polyphony, that he has managed the trivial 
rhythm of the hymn with any freedom. No deep vein is any- 
where struck; cheerful melody, facile rhythm, and ingenious 
combinations of tone, form the whole. In addition to the 
instruments namely, three violins, two violas, three cornets, 
three trumpets, three trombones, bass, and organ we find a 
unique instance the dulcimer (cymbalo) ; the chorus is in 
six parts. We see that the plan of the orchestra is still 
designed for alternation of effect. After the first section, 

127 The Musical Paradise of the Soul. Winterfeld, Ev. Kir., II., 414, and the 
examples given in notes. 


the following verses are carried on in alternate settings for 
one or for three parts in each, in the aria form and with 
gay ritornels : happily the same melody is not adhered to 
throughout, for the inevitable rhythm (of a dotted crotchet 
and three quavers) in 3-4 time is fatiguing enough as it is. 

The sixth cantata, "Bedenke, Mensch, das Ende, bedenke 
deinen Tod " " Remember thou art mortal, remember thou 
must die," is far more dignified and grave, but even here 
the construction is very simple. Five verses of the hymn 
are fitted to the same music, only the last is richer in detail, 
and is graced by an "Amen" movement. It is prefaced by a 
sonata which has quite the form of the French overture 
in little ; then three voices sing the verses, each finishing 
with a ritornel on the violins. The "Amen" consists of 
small subjects fugally treated and taken up by the instru- 
ments ; here and there only the first violin ventures on a 
combination with the other instruments. 

The fourth cantata resembles the first and second in its 
mixture of Bible words, hymns, and independent writing, but 
musically it is distinct from them by having no chorus on an 
independent verse ; instead, it has two different chorales. 
After a short symphony in G minor, plunged in sadness, the 
chorale strophe is heard handled in precisely the same 
manner as in the second cantata. 

Wo soil ich fliehen hin, 
Weil ich beschweret bin 
Mit viel und grossen Siinden, 
Wo soil ich Rettung finden ? 
Wenn alle Welt herkame, 
Mein Angst sie nicht wegnahme. 

Ah ! whither can I fly ? 

Bowed down and crushed am I ; 

Iniquities upbraid me, 

Whom shall I find to aid me ? 

If all the world stood round me, 

My fears would still confound me. 

What was omitted in the former case namely, the intro- 
duction of ornamentation with the melody is here done to 


a certain extent in one of the voice parts ; nevertheless, the 
solo soprano has not merely a musical, but also a dramatic 
purpose, and the small deviations in the melody are only 
intended to bring the idea of the tortured heart more 
/ividly before the mind. To this questioning a bass arioso 
replies, " Come unto Me, all ye that are weary and heavy- 
laden," &c. Thus we have a dialogue, in which we must 
suppose the speakers to be the Believing Soul and Christ, 
according to the allegorical form long known in the Pro- 
testant Church. The title of the cantata is, indeed, 
expressly Dialogus. Hammerschmidt, who opened out new 
paths in church music in so many directions, had as early 
as 1645 published " Dialogi, or Conversations between God 
and a Believing Soul," 128 and had followed out the idea in 
the fourth part of his Musical Meditations, and in Musical 
Discourses on the Gospel, by the alternate response of 
hymns and Bible words. But the characteristic feature of 
the composers at the close of the seventeenth century con- 
sisted in this that they allowed the chorale to be performed 
by a solo voice with an accompaniment, and could thus use 
it, with the addition of passion-breathing modifications of the 
melody and unexpected harmonies, as a means for expressing 
the most subjective feeling, without giving it a polyphonic 
form so strict as to counterbalance the subjectivity. It is 
in them, properly speaking, as has already been said, that 
we most clearly discern the musical counterpart of the 
pietistic " spiritual song." Of course, not in the sense 
that this style of composition in any way owed its origin 
or its tendency to pietism ; the direct influence of Pietism 
on sacred music and its development was quite insignificant, 
for this reason that it strictly excluded the whole realm 
of art. 

The two lines of feeling originated side by side, and 
from the same root of sentiment ; and music, as a fact, 
reached that stage of sentimentality and youthful rhapsody 
which necessarily ensues on the resuscitation of a nation's 

128 Dialogi oder Gesprache zwischen Gott und einer glaubigen Seele. 


life, and which must first betray itself in music, all 
the earlier, because from the very nature of the German 
people it was precisely in music that the first vital energy 
was shown, which budded and blossomed after the miseries 
of the great war. The beginnings of pietistic verse 
writing, no doubt, lay within that same musical period. 
Buxtehude even had more than one opportunity of com- 
bining it with his tones, but by the time it was at its fullest 
blossom church music had long overstepped that stage; 
partly it had repossessed itself of the religious ideal in its 
purest sublimity, and partly it had turned in other direc- 
tions which had no further concern with that ideal. 

The bass arioso which responds to the Believing Soul, 
and which is not wanting in feeling and fervour, is very 
long, and falls into two parts. The first closes on the domi- 
nant of G minor ; the second begins] again in B flat major, 
"And ye shall find rest unto your soul," and does not return 
to the principal key until the last bars. There is no idea of 
any complete or compact form, but there are in it elements 
which were of more essential, though of less obvious, 
importance to the sacred aria formed on the Italian model, 
and as Bach subsequently developed it. A few con- 
spicuous ones are also traceable. Thus now and then the 
accompanying violins pass into brief polyphonic combina- 
tions with the bass voice ; still, the proper treatment of 
this voice remains an almost undiscovered country it 
generally coincides with the instrumental bass. At a later 
date, Mattheson, speaking of Handel, who, at the time when 
he went to Hamburg was not yet freed from the manner of 
the old-fashioned cantata, says: "He composed, at times, 
long, very long, arias, and positively endless cantatas, which 
displayed neither true skill nor correct taste, though their 
harmony was perfect ; but the opera, which was a fine 
school, soon upset all that." 129 Certainly, the church-can- 
tata could not but be influenced in some degree by dramatic 

129 Mattheson Ehrenpforte, p. 93. 


The Believing Soul now follows the consoling invitation 
and promises, with the second verse of the chorale 

Jesu voller Gnad, 
Auf dein Gebot und Rath 
Kommt mein betriibt Gemiithc 
Zu deiner grossen Giite. 
Lass du auf mein Gewissen 
Bin Gnadentropflein fliessen. 

Oh! Jesu, gracious Lord, 
Obedient to Thy word 

1 bid my weary spirit 
Trust wholly in Thy merit, 
Some drops of mercy craving, 
To bring me peace and saving. 

Then, with renewed and more earnest consolations, the 
bass begins a second arioso in E flat major, " As I live, 
saith the Lord, I will not the death of a sinner, but rather 
that he should be converted and live. Ask and ye shall 
receive, seek and ye shall find, knock and it shall be 
opened unto you." To this succeeds one of those beautiful 
slow instrumental movements, several of which we have 
become acquainted with, and then an aria (i.e., a hymn of 
four verses with a ritornel) for the tenor, connected with 
the close of the foregoing passage of Scripture, and medi- 
tating on the promises there bestowed. This idea, but in 
four or three parts, occurs, too, in the first and second 
cantatas ; this again, foreshadows the later church can- 
tatas, and particularly the Bach Passion Music, in which 
the aria has exactly the same poetic import. The end is 
formed of the sixth and eighth verses of the chorale, " Herr 
Jesu Christ, du hb'chstes Gut," in which it is resolved to 
approach the Saviour with a petition for grace and a blessed 
end. The sixth verse is sung by the soprano- solo again, 
with four-part accompaniment of strings and organ ; the last 
verse is given to the chorus with expressive melodic orna- 
ments, deeply moving harmonies which prophesy distinctly 
of Bach, and several amplifications of the phrases. In the 
intervals between the lines are inserted interludes, among 


which one, twice repeated, appears particularly striking and 
original, even for Buxtehude's style : 


_p * 

The " Amen " is more elaborate than usual, with beautiful 
canon treatments and richer and more independent orches- 
tration, so that we may conclude that this dialogue had a 
special interest for the composer. The tender depth of 
feeling that makes itself felt in it gives it, in fact, a prominent 
superiority over the rest of Buxtehude's cantatas, although 
the feeling is somewhat too monotonous and it lacks ani- 
mating contrasts. 

The seventh cantata is set to Martin Schalling's beautiful 
hymn of three verses, "Herzlich lieb hab ich dich, o Herr" 
"I love Thee, from my soul, O Lord;" it is in the 
strictest sense a chorale cantata. Buxtehude was not alone 
among his contemporaries in the employment of this form. 
The Leipzig cantors Kniipfer and Schelle had worked at 
it diligently, and a similar composition by Pachelbel has 
been already mentioned. But in its details, and in the 
feeling they express, it is a penectly individual composition. 
The first verse is again intrusted to the soprano, and is sup- 
ported by an independent accompaniment in five parts which 
in part lies above it. This, however, is not thematic, 
hence it is restless, and without real depth ; still, as we 
have said, the chorale, by being given to the human voice, 
has the good effect of making itself felt as the principal 
motive of the work, and of giving unity to the whole. The 
impression on the senses is captivating, particularly when 
the two violins soar high up, and the melody is surrounded 
on all sides with a sea of sound. The poetic expression is 
rendered very personal by the rapturous harmony border- 
ing on sentimentality, and by the outward means of change 
of tempo, so that the cry, " Herr Jesu Christ ! " in the last 



line but one, gives the impression of an almost sensuous 
desire. On the other hand, Buxtehude's filmy harmonies 
have something ethereal in them, so that we seem often 
to see a web of silver threads. At the second verse the 
motett-like treatment of the melody begins. We do not 
see here any mere imitation of Buxtehude's similarly 
constructed organ chorales nay, rather these are them- 
selves imitations of the motett style. But certain features 
which occur in them are frequently found again here, par- 
ticularly the union of the chorale theme with independent 
subsidiaries, and the different combinations of the themes 
which follow one another in unbroken succession and in 
great variety. Tutti passages alternate with the polyphonic 
movements, and give a beautiful effect of breadth to the 
whole. The expression is often made more vivid and 
intelligible by a change of tempo, or even by a kind of 
instrumental tone-painting, which approaches the province 
of oratorio. There is a remarkable passage in the second 
verse, to the words "Auf dass ichs trag geduldiglich " 
" On which I bear it patiently," where the carrying of 
the Cross is represented by eight oppressively heavy 
chords, of which the harmony scarcely changes at all. 

There is deeper feeling still in two passages in the third 
verse, the first beginning 

Ach Herr, lass dein lieb Engelein 
Am letzten End die Seele mein 
In Abrahams Schooss tragen. 

Lord, send Thine angel when I die 
To bear me up, that I may lie 
In father Abraham's bosom. 

Timidly, yet fervently, the prayer is begun by two voices, 
while all the instruments are silent. In the sixth bar the 
violins enter with a whispered tremolo in repeated quavers, 
and then in semiquavers ; the voices go on, alone and forsaken, 
as in the lonely death-hour; they are surrounded on all sides 
with a fluttering breeze, and we seem actually to hear 
the wings of the heaven-sent messengers. A tremolo on the 
violins, which now has long lost any especial effect, was 


then something new; but such is the spirituality with which 
it is imagined and worked out, that, even now, one cannot 
escape a mysterious thrill of awe at the passage. Later 
on, this passage occurs 

Den Leib in sein'm Schlafkammerlein 
Gar sanft ohn einig Qual und Pein 
Ruhn bis zum jiingsten Tage 

The body in its narrow bed, 
Calmly, without a pain or dread, 
Rests till the resurrection. 

On the last line the following tone-picture is constructed : 
the bass voice, supported by a low instrumental bass, first 
takes the word "rest," in 3-2 time, on a long-held e. In the 
next bar the second soprano and alto come in on g' sharp 
and e', and, finally, the tenor starts on the fifth, b, which, 
after the other parts have ceased, is still held softly in the 
distance. Then the gradual formation of the chord is 
repeated, beginning, however, at the top b',g' sharp, e', and e 
and as each voice ceases a bar before the next, the chord 
dies away dreamily as it descends. In the whole passage 
the strings keep up a mysterious whispered rocking motion 
in crotchets, in the two octaves from c to c". 

A different method is followed with the hymn by Johann 
Franck, " Jesu, mein Freude," in the eleventh cantata. It 
is set for only two sopranos and bass, two violins, bassoon, 
and organ. After a sonata, the first verse is gone through by 
the three vocal parts, with a superstructure of two violins, 
thus making five parts ; the course of the chorale melody, 
which is harmonised very delicately and with great discrimi- 
nation, is completely adhered to, and only interludes and a 
ritornel at the end are added to it. The second verse is 
given to the first soprano alone, supported only by the 
organ ; the melody is lost in florid ornamentation, but 
any extension of the phrases is strictly avoided, as is 
usual even in Buxtehude's small organ chorales. The 
third verse is taken by the bass alone, with the instruments. 
The effort after the greatest possible individual expression 
destroys the rounding off of the phrases, and prolongs the 

x 2 


separate lines by emphatic declamation and the subsidiary 
development of episodes. The instruments now and then 
repeat what has been given out by the voices. It is 
hardly possible here not to be reminded in the liveliest 
manner of Bach, and convinced that he must have known 
this piece, and that, consciously or unconsciously, he must 
have been thinking of it when he wrote his lovely motett, 
" Jesu, meine Freude." Just as in that, Buxtehude begins 
(and time and key are identical, too) with the warlike, 
defiant and intermittent cries, " Trotz ! trotz! trotz dem 
alten Drachen !"-" Death ! death! death to that old 
dragon ! " the rolling passage to the words, " Tobe, Welt, 
und springe" "Storm, thou world, and break," are pre- 
cisely similar, and the passage " Stehen und Singen in 
sichrer Ruh " " Standing and singing at rest and secure," 
is represented with equal vividness, although by different 
means. These lines are most characteristically treated 

Erd und Abgrund muss verstummen, 
Ob sie noch so brummen. 

Earth and Hell henceforth be still, 
Rage they as they will. 

For "Abgrund" the bass has a phrase of powerful de- 
scending octaves (e E and d D) and we will give an 
example of the " brummen " (raging) : 

. Violincn. 


~ "*" 

I-J f L l-l i ~T7 

* al -r-r |J 


Mp "LJ 

L ^- ^ t]U J J 1- 


ver-)stum- men, muss ver - stum - men 06 sie noch so brim - 

ob sie noch so brum - men. 


There is in this tone-picture, although in a much smaller 
degree, that kind of grim mirth which Bach, like Luther, 
occasionally indulges in. If we regard more particularly the 
general scheme of the cantata, we shall see that it is the 
precursor of those wonderful works of Bach's in which 
he treats a hymn, such for instance as "Christ lag in Todes- 
banden," with a strict regard to the original melody through- 
out. They indeed belong to the period of his greatest 
perfection ; nevertheless I am inclined to believe that he 
attempted something of the kind when young, and possibly 
the Sinfonia before mentioned which introduces this cantata, 
may have been taken from some such youthful performance. 
We have seen in one striking case, and we shall meet with 
still more, how the impressions of his youth had their effect 
on him afterwards, and suddenly rose again to the surface, 
after many years, in a glorified and transfigured form. 

For the fourth verse all three voices are employed, and 
the instruments come in by turns with them and against 
them. It begins with passionate cries : " Weg ! weg ! weg 
mit alien Schatzen" "Go! go! go all earthly treasures," 
treated contrapuntally, in the style of Bach's motetts. The 
fifth verse is given to the second soprano alone, the melody 
being treated with florid ornamentation and extended, accom- 
panied only by the organ. In the sixth verse all the parts are 
finally united, and this interesting work closes in rich five- 
part harmony. Two other cantatas in the manuscript 
collection are also set to hymns, one to Michael Pfefferkorn's 
" Was frag ich nach der Welt," the other to the hymn by 
Angelus Silesius, " Meine Seele, willst du ruhn." Buxtehude 
has not confined himself, however, to their original melodies, 
but has regarded them simply as available devotional poems, 
and has put his own music to them, a procedure which 
Hammerschmidt, and even Schiitz did not hesitate to employ 
with the old traditional hymns. 

It is a remarkable feature of the period that several 
cantatas were written for a single voice. To these belong 
the composition, "Lord, now lettest Thou Thy servant," 
&c. The first section, which is preceded by a symphony, is 
remarkable, because in it an attempt is made to mould the 


arioso to a more defined form ; and although it is not yet 
freed from the stiff ritornel, yet a rounding off is attempted 
at the end by a repetition of the chief melodic theme. It 
is the same treatment as in the tenor solo and the soprano 
aria of Bach's Easter cantata. The second section is also 
interesting in the matter of form, since a very pretty fugue 
is developed between the tenor and the two violins, in 
which, however, the supporting bass takes no part. Here 
a decided attempt to arrive at a new style is perceptible. 130 
The cantata " Herr, wenn ich nur dich habe," is also 
for one solo voice. Here the biblical text is first gone 
through in an arioso manner; then follows an aria in two 
verses, then an instrumental interlude, and, last of all, a 
long " Amen," of such a form that the voice has each time 
a florid passage of several bars on the first syllable of the 
word, which is then answered by the instruments, and so 
on to the end. The seventeenth cantata, too, " Ich bin eine 
Blume zu Saron" "I am the Rose of Sharon," &c., is, 
curiously enough, set for a single bass voice, although the 
words from the beginning of the second chapter of the Song 
of Solomon contains the conversation of two lovers. 181 

The other pieces present no essentially new forms to our 
notice, although they contain many separate beauties and 
much elegance. 132 The composition " Ich habe Lust abzu- 
scheiden," is particularly remarkable for great tenderness 
and depth of feeling, and for a very beautiful dying close at 
the end, in which a feeling is perceived which was to soar 
to its full height in Bach's cantata, " Gottes Zeit ist die 
allerbeste Zeit " " God's time is the best." 

180 See Appendix A, No. 14. 

131 After bar thirty-two there is some error in the MS. I presume that 
the transcriber has only forgotten the conclusion of the voice part (possibly 
g sharp e) in the following bar. 

132 They are, " Lauda Sion salvatorem" for two sopranos and bass; 
" Nichts soil uns scheiden von der Liebe Gottes," for soprano, alto, and 
baritone ; " Ich halte es dafiir," for soprano and bass ; " Also hat Gott die 
Welt geliebet," for soprano; "Lauda, anima mea" for soprano; " Jesu, meine 
Freud und Lust," for alto. The collection must also have been intended to 
be continued, since, on Fol. 86b, there is the beginning of another cantata for 
soprano, in G major, which has been struck through, " Dies ist der Tag, den 
der Herr gemacht hat." 



WHEN the year 1706 arrived, Bach gradually remembered 
that his home was not Liibeck but Arnstadt. Perhaps it 
might have happened to him to make a new home in the 
old Hanseatic town, since it is scarcely possible that he 
would have been refused the post of Buxtehude's successor 
if he had married his eldest daughter. What direction his 
genius would have taken in that case, and whether he would 
have retained the full depth of his character in the vicinity 
of the opera at Hamburg, in prosperous circumstances and 
surrounded with all the most brilliant accessories of art, it 
is impossible to say. But the somewhat mature age of the 
daughter deterred him just as much as it had done Matthe- 
son and Handel, and perhaps his affections were already 
attached in another quarter. So he left it to another and 
an older musician to secure for himself, with the lady, the 
reversion of the post of organist in the Marien-Kirche, for 
Johann Christian Schieferdecker, previously cembalist (i.e., 
maestro al cembalo, or harpsichord-player) in the opera 
band at Hamburg, was Buxtehude's successor. The wife 
who had been, in the phrase of the time, " allotted " or 
" reserved " for him with the situation, cannot long have 
survived, since he took a third wife in 1717 and died in 1732. 
It was probably in the early part of February that Bach 
took leave of the venerable master whom he was never to 
see again, for on May 9, 1707, Buxtehude was taken from 
life and art. On his way home Bach may, perhaps, have 
passed by Luneburg and visited Bohm ; he may even have 
taken a day at Hamburg, but by February 21, he had been for 
some days re-established in his lonely home in Thuringia. 

On that day he received a citation from the Consistory. 
In matters of business they were in no way punctilious, nay, 
they were not so exact as might have been wished. But a 


leave of absence extended from four weeks to sixteen 
outraged even their forbearance. In addition to this, the 
clerical authorities were not satisfied with Bach's way of 
playing the service; and they had cause for their dissatisfac- 
tion. For though at the present day we may consider that 
Bach was justified in regarding the free cultivation of his 
organ-playing as the chief matter, and its employment in 
divine service as subsidiary, it could not be expected that 
his official superiors should humour his as yet unrecognised 
genius in all respects, disregarding the feelings of the 
congregation. Bach, with his productive power luxuriantly 
bringing forth innumerable blossoms, would submit to no 
restrictions even from the congregational singing, in respect 
to which it ought to have filled a subordinate position. Even 
during the singing of the tune, he indulged in ornamentations 
and digressions of a new and bold kind ; and doubtless in 
this irregular habit, from which he subsequently almost 
entirely freed himself, he was especially confirmed by his 
close connection with the northern masters, although indeed 
it was a very general one. 183 He must too, though it was 
not expressly stated, have given way recklessly to his love 
of harmonic intensification ; and we know how much the 
character even of the best-known melody can be altered by 
unfamiliar harmonies. He went so far that the congrega- 
tion often did not know what they were listening to, and got 
into complete confusion. 184 

We possess an interesting organ work of his earliest 
period, which throws a clear light on the style of his playing 

188 Adlung could still denounce this practice in 1758 (Anl. zur mus. Gel., 
pp. 681, 682), "when," he says, "several organists are accustomed to 
make variations, even while the congregation are singing, as if they were 
playing a chorale prelude. Now are heard two-part variations and diminu- 
tions and playful passages, sometimes on the pedals, and sometimes in the 
upper part ; then they kick about with their feet, they ornament the tune and 
break it up, and hack it about until one does not know it again. Is this, then, 
the real way to keep the congregation together ? I should think it would 
rather puzzle them." 

184 The reader will remember an anecdote of Beethoven's youth that an 
experienced singer in the Hof-Kirche, at Bonn, was quite put out by his bold 
modulations. (Thayei's Life of Beethoven.) 


at that time. This is the chorale " Wer nur den lieben 
Gott lasst walten," with prelude, interludes, and postlude, 
which we see at the first glance to have been intended for 
divine service, and which must have been written in the 
first years of the Arnstadt period, since many traces of 
Bohm's manner can be discerned, and very little use is 
made of the pedals. The prelude consists of nine bars of 
semiquaver figures, mostly for the right hand, which antici- 
pate the harmonic progression of the chorale. This follows 
next, in three parts, with a highly embellished melody, of 
which the last line but one, for example, has this form: 

The interludes are not introduced regularly between each 
line, as they ought to be if employed at all; they appear 
between the first and second, not between the second and 
third; again, between the third and fourth, and then at 
greater length before the second section of the tune, but 
there is none before the last line. It is very possible nay, 
even likely that Bach would not separate those lines that 
are closely connected together in the form of premise and 
conclusion ; the idea, logically and poetically, was a good 
one, but quite impracticable as regards the congregation 
who must have thought it was done in a merely arbitrary 
manner. 185 He had also overstepped the mark in the free 
preludes before the different hymns; but when Olearius, 
the Superintendent, requested him to make them rather 
shorter, he contracted them to such a degree as to give 
general offence. The characteristic of an easily aroused 

185 The arrangement of this chorale in its pure form, with many improvements 
and richer adornments, was included in the Clavierbiichlein, made for his 
son Friedemann in 1720, evidently after he had made the elegant employment 
of ornamentation a particular study. He was better fitted for that than for 
accompanying congregational singing. It will be found in its shortened and 
improved form in P. Ser. V., Vol. V., No. 52 ; and in its original form as the 
vacant to No. 52 at the beginning of the volume. 


irritability and of obstinacy meets us here for the first though 
not for the last time ; it ran in his family, and though we 
cannot directly point it out in Ambrosius Bach, the reader 
will remember the affair about the marriage of his brother, 
whose temper was very similar. Finally, he had completely 
alienated his choir, and consequently did not care the least 
about it. In the first place, the choir was too bad for him, 
and he was too much occupied with composition to take any 
pleasure in troubling himself with their progress; but he 
forgot that it was only natural that the best voices of the 
place should not be allotted to him, since his tuition was 
only to be a preparation for the chief choir of the Ober- 
Kirche. He forgot in the ardour of youth that, notwith- 
standing his extraordinary gifts, he must, after all, fulfil his 
duty ; he forgot, too, the frank kindness with which he 
had been received, and the great confidence which had been 
reposed in him. In fact, the Consistory, in exercising their 
authority, as had at last become necessary, might justly 
have spoken with much harshness and severity, but they 
showed themselves mild and patient beyond expectation. 
But, on the other hand, it must have been pretty hard for a 
young musician, barely twenty years old, to get on well 
with the scholars, some of whom were probably scarcely 
younger than himself. The excellent discipline which had 
been originally instituted by the energetic and watchful 
Rector Treiber, had ceased since Johann Gottfried Olearius 
who had the interest of the school very little at heart 
had been appointed Superintendent and Inspector of the 
school. Treiber's authority now began to be undermined 
by arbitrary encroachments on his rights, instigated by 
his enemies ; his influence was gradually weakened and 
destroyed, and the way was thus left open for disorder in 
the school, and finally for utter insubordination. In an 
address from the town-council to the Consistory, presented 
on April 16, 1706, complaint is made of the disobedient, 
ungovernable, and lawless behaviour of the scholars. "They 
have no fear of their teachers, they fight even in their 
presence, and meet them in the most insolent manner. 
They wear swords, not only in the streets but in the school 


too ; they play at ball during service and in school hours, 
and run about in improper places." 186 When mature and 
worthy men could obtain no respect from the undisciplined 
boys, how should an inexperienced and irritable youth 
succeed ? 

The report of the examination appointed by the Count's 
Consistory, to consider the case of Bach, is one of the most 
interesting documents relating to him. It shall follow here 
in the exact form in which it has been preserved to us. 

Whatever inconvenience may be occasioned to the reader 
by the antiquated phrasing will be compensated far by the 
lively view of the time which it gives, for the spirit of an 
age is reflected in its outward forms. 137 

" Actum, de Feb. 21. 706. 

The Organist of the New Church, Bach, is required to say 
where he has been for so long of late, and from whom he 
received leave of absence ? 

Ille (i.e., Bach, answered) 

That he had been to Lubeck with intent to learn thoroughly 
one or two things connected with his art, and that he 
previously asked permission from the Herr Superintend. 

Dominus Superintendent 

That he had only asked such permission for four weeks, but 
had remained abroad quite four times as long as that. 


Hoped that the organ meantime would have been played by 
the substitute he had put in, 188 in such a manner that no com- 
plaint could be made on that score. 

Nos (i.e., the Consistory) 
Charge him with having hitherto been in the habit of making 

136 Uhlworm, Beitrage zur Geschichte des Gymnasiums zu Arnstadt. Part 
III., pp. 7-9. (Prospectus of the Arnstadt Gymnasium for the year 1861.) 

137 The report is preserved by itself among the archives of the Principality 
of Sondershausen, and bears the title: " jfoh. Sebastian Bachen, Organisten in 
der Neuen-Kirche betr. wegen Langwierigen Verreissens vnd Unterlassener 
Figural music. 1706." (Joh. S. Bach, Organist of the New Church, summoned 
respecting his prolonged absence and the discontinuance of the part-singing, 

188 This was possibly his cousin, Ernst Bach. 


surprising variationes in the chorales, and intermixing divers 
strange sounds, so that thereby the congregation were con- 
founded. If in the future he wishes to introduce some tonus 
Peregrinus m he must keep to it, and not go off directly to 
something else, or, as he had hitherto done, play quite a 
tonum contrarium. 140 And then it is very strange that up to 
this time he has had no "music-making" (i.e., rehearsals), 
by reason of his not being able to agree with the scholars. 
Therefore he is to declare whether he will play both part- 
music and chorales with the scholars ; since another Capell- 
meister cannot be kept, and if he will not do this, let him 
say so categorically of his own accord, that a change may be 
made, and some one who will undertake it may be appointed 
to the post. 

If a proper Director be appointed, he will play again. 

Resolvitur (It is. resolved) 

That he shall explain his conduct within eight days. And, at 
the same time, that Scholar Rambach appear, 141 and be 
reproved for the desordres which up to this time have taken 
place between the scholars and the Organist in the New 

I lie (i.e., Rambach) 

The Organist, Bach, used to play too long preludes, but 
after this was notified to him, by the Herr Superintendent, 
he went at once quite to the opposite extreme and has made 
them too short. 


Reproach him, with having gone to a wine-shop last Sunday 
during the sermon. 

189 From the connection, this can only mean a key not proper to the original 

140 Meaning a tune harmonised in an unusual way. 

141 The name of the choir prefect. In the accounts of the church expenses 
in the council archives at Arnstadt (p. 63), there appears the entry: " Joh. 
Andreas Rambach, for chorale singing in the New Church, from Michaelmas, 
1705, to Trinity Sunday, 1706 9 months ; 7 fl. 10 ggr. 6 pf." His successor 
from the second half of the year was Joh. Chr. Rambach (see the same accounts, 
p. 64). 


Ille CT&^uL) 

Was very sorry, and would never do so again, and their 
Reverences had already treated him very severely about it. 
The Organist need not complain of him about the conducting, 
because that was undertaken, not by him, but by the youth 
Schmidt. 142 


He must, for the future, behave quite differently and much 
better than he has done hitherto, or else the emolument 
designed for him will be withheld. If he has anything to 
remember against the Organist he must bring it forward 
at the proper place, and not take the law into his own 
hands, but behave in such a manner as to give satisfac- 
tion, as he had promised. The servants of the Court are 
hereby enjoined to tell the Rector to adjudicate that Ram- 
bach be imprisoned on four successive days for two hours 
each day." 

Although the Consistory in their requirements from Bach 
used, according to this report, very emphatic language, 
their conduct was patient and forbearing. In his playing 
the musician may have accommodated himself more to 
their expressed wishes, and, with regard to the differences 
with the school choir, they were impartial enough to per- 
ceive that there were faults on both sides ; they suggested 
a change in the circumstances of the case, and they 
allowed the explanation demanded of Bach within eight 
days to stand over for a time, hoping that he might of 
his own accord come to an agreement with the choir. 
In truth, however, there was little prospect of this, 
especially since Bach, elevated and replenished with the 
artistic life he had enjoyed at Liibeck, now, more than 
before, busied himself with his own productions, and 

142 Perhaps Andreas Gottlieb Schmidt, who, in 1728, when Ernst Bach 
succeeded Borner in the Ober-Kirche, applied for the post of Organist of the New 
Church, but withdrew afterwards, because he had been " for a long time out of 
practice," and could not regain his powers in so short a time. He was at that 
time Registrar (Acta " regarding the appointment of the organists at Arnstadt." 
Fol. 132). 


certainly must have found the drudgeries which he had to 
undergo with the scholars, rough alike in music and in 
manners, quite intolerable. 

The influence of Buxtehude's music clung to Bach all his 
life, in certain characteristics of form. The ideal side of it 
swiftly disappeared in the mighty flood of Bach's own origi- 
nality, because the older master's musical feeling, though 
much more limited than Bach's, was yet of the same 
kind. So that all those compositions which, whether in gene- 
ral plan or in particular methods of expression, show an evi- 
dent leaning towards the style of Buxtehude, may with justice 
be considered as works of Bach's earliest period, written 
for the most part soon after his return from Liibeck, partly 
even before his journey thither. 148 For he could not previously 
have been unacquainted with Buxtehude's works, or what 
could have induced him to seek his immediate neighbour- 
hood ? On the contrary, he must have made acquaintance 
with them when he was at Liineburg, and through Bohm, 
who had a great respect for them. 

I am not able to point out any vocal compositions by 
Bach founded directly on those of Buxtehude. The cantatas 
of the following year are indeed in the old prescribed form, 
but they are, in a great degree, full of his own ideas. Not- 
withstanding, the impression which he had received from this 
quarter was certainly an important one, and it has already 
been pointed out that it unexpectedly appears in some of 
the later works. We may also believe that the evening per- 
formances had affected him deeply. The man who could give 
such full musical expression to the sweet, elevated yearning? 
of Advent-tide, and the bright, pure, fulness of joy of Christ- 
mas Day, as Bach did in his Advent cantata of 1714 and in 
his Christmas Oratorio, must have fully entered into the 
poetry of those performances in the winter evenings in the 
church, radiant with light and music. A number of instru- 
mental works could be mentioned which seem to have 
an unmistakable connection with these occasions. The 

148 Mizler, p. 62. "For organ composition he took (when he was in 
Arnstadt) the works of Bruhns, Reinken, and Buxtehude for models." 


fugue in C minor, before spoken of, betrayed this connection 
in some measure, especially in the form of the prelude which 
ushers it in, but much more does a prelude and fugue in 
A minor 144 from beginning to end, though still in a way which 
is somewhat immature. The work has the appearance of 
having been merely a reminiscence, and not a new formation 
resulting from the assimilation of foreign elements; as if it 
had been written before Buxtehude's manner had become 
quite comprehensible, and as it were living to the composer ; 
probably, therefore, before 1706, but at Arnstadt, as we judge 
from the pedal technique. It consists of a short prelude, two 
fugues separated by an interlude, and a postlude which re- 
peats and dilates upon the movement of the prelude. The 
second fugue is not based upon the first, but has an indepen- 
dent theme. Thus what was a strict condition of the organ- 
ism of the northern fugue-form is here wholly neglected, the 
composition falls into two sections, and is only superficially 
rounded off and connected by the repetition of the prelude. 
The first theme bears quite a striking likeness to the models 
of the northern masters; with mechanical motion and an ab- 
sence of all melodic expression, it goes round in its narrow 
circle, and no rich development makes up, as was usual in their 
works, for its insignificance. It goes steadily downwards 
without interruption through four entries of the theme, 
without regard to a fixed number of parts, and then this 
manoeuvre is repeated in a lower position, with a close in 
C major, and so an end. The second theme has a more 
individual growth, but strongly inclines to Buxtehude's 
manner by immediately bringing in a counter-subject, which 
accompanies it throughout its whole course in simple and 
double counterpoint, which produces even here an inevitable 
monotony. From a little appendage to the theme, which 
appears first in bar fifty-two, an independent figured passage 
is afterwards generated, which, in detail as in general features, 
greatly reminds us of Buxtehude ; and with this the fugal 
movement closes, the chief theme not being heard again. 

P. Ser. V., Cap. III. (Vol. 242), No. 9. 


This evolution of a new subject is very clever and subtle. 
Separate details, in which the true resemblance is often 
more easily traced than it is in general outline, might be 
quoted in abundance ; for instance, the kind of figuration 
used, the double shake in the sixth bar from the end, the 
solo entry of the pedal, the thrice-repeated quaver in the 
newly formed subject, the false relation twice introduced 
quite intentionally in the broad harmonic progressions in the 
interlude, the long-tarrying on the subdominant just before 
the end, which closes "with the greater third" (i.e., in the 
tonic major). Nor is there any lack of harsh, unwieldy 
passages ; we are deluded in a particularly unpleasant way, 
in bars fifteen and twenty-four, into the hope of getting into 
C major on the third beat of the bar, and in bar fifty-one 
the sudden cessation of the two upper parts has not an 
agreeable effect. 

On the other hand, a more mature work, and one betray- 
ing a greater warmth of feeling, is a fantasia in G major, 145 
so called because it neither contains a regular fugue as its 
germ, nor presents the variety and changing style of a 
toccata. Although it contains three complete movements, 
there reigns throughout a perfect thematic unity, such as 
Buxtehude loved and liked to work out. Nay, more, in his 
great composition in G minor, which extends into a chaconne, 
or other works of the same kind, we can recognise the pro- 
genitors of Bach's fantasia. Kuhnau's subject, already 
quoted before, serves as the first theme 


and the contrapuntal treatment is very like that of the fugue 
in the first part of the "Claviertibung." It subsequently 
appears inverted, and serves in a slightly modified form for 

148 Unpublished ; contained in the Royal Library at Berlin, in an old MS. (in 
a volume, sign. 287) from the legacy of the organist Westphal, in Hamburg, 
which came into the market in 1830. The full title is: FANTASIA, clamat 
in Gtydi Johann Sebastian Bach. 


the motive of the second movement (Adagio, E minor), 

from which is generated finally, for the third movement 
(Allegro, G major), this chaconne theme: 

This form, thoroughly characteristic of Buxtehude, never 
recurs in any of Bach's later works, and removes all doubt 
as to the date of composition ; we have additional evidence 
in the unmethodic use of the pedal, in the undefined charac- 
ter wavering between that of the organ and clavier; and 
lastly, in the expression, which hovers on the surface and 
seldom is of much depth. The treatment of the subject is 
free in the antiquated style ; the answer comes first three 
times on the octave, then the theme appears four times in 
the dominant, then again many times more in the tonic, 
and afterwards twice in the minor. In the last movement 
the chief subject lies now below, now in the middle, and 
now above, its place in the scale varying with each repetition. 
The way in which it is surrounded on all sides with imitative 
passages of semiquavers, and yet comes prominently forward 
with dramatic vigour whenever it appears, is very admirable, 
and shows how thoroughly the composer had mastered the 
inherent nature of his exemplar. Just as before we have 
seen him following Bohm or Kuhnau, so he shows in this 
instance that his universal talent had the power to assimi- 
late all the different tendencies of the time ; thus he laid 
the broad foundations on which he was to rear the secure 
and towering edifice of his own productions. It was not in 
his character to evince originality of a false and immature 
kind, but he always infused some individuality into whatever 
form he used. 

To put counterpoint of the most resplendent kind to slowly 
ascending and descending scale passages in the bass, as is 



done here, was a favourite style of organ-music with Bruhns 
and Buxtehude. Bach employed this motive in a broad and 
fine manner for a piece for the organ, which also has the title 
of Fantasia, and which is in the same key. 148 But this would 
not be enough to give it a place here, were it not that the 
Buxtehude influence in the harmonising of the fantasia, and 
the kind of feeling it reveals, is prominent to a degree never 
reached by any other of Bach's works. Here, if anywhere, 
we find evidence of the fact that Bach must at some time or 
other have been fully imbued with Buxtehude's peculiarities. 
It gives the impression that he had resolved for once to 
revel in the intoxicating wealth of sound which had been 
brought to him from that quarter. With insatiable enjoy- 
ment he repeats those doubled suspensions, chords of the 
ninth, diminished intervals, wide-spread harmonies, melodic 
phrases rapturously ascending and outsoaring one another 
an entranced delight in the ocean of sound that never pauses 
to ask what the end will be. Thus throughout the long Grave 
movement the full five parts are almost always kept up, the 
pedal only ceasing for a short time at bar 103. Towards 
the end, and especially from this place onwarids, the scale 
subject is more prominent, at first heavy and slow ; and then 
the expression rises gradually to an indescribable intensity 
and glow, which soars away far, far above the capabilities of 
the organ. The pedal slowly ascends with irresistible force 
from D, through two octaves in semibreves, resting finally 
in a mighty pedal-point on the note it started from ; then 
the left hand takes up the subject in thirds, and the counter- 
point soars farther and farther above it, until it is interrupted 
by the chord of the diminished seventh, and then, like a 
shower of rain in sunshine, down pour the glittering pearls 
of sound in demi-semiquavers, in groups of six, with many 
bold intervals and skips from passing notes. 

Again he follows his model as regards both form and 
feeling in a fugue in 12-8 time, and likewise in G 
major. 147 A comparison of the conclusion of the first great 

146 P. Ser. V., Cah. 4 (243), No. n. 

147 In manuscript in the legacy of the late Musikdirector at Dessau, Hcrr F. 
W. Rust; now in the possession of Herr Dr. W. Rust in Berlin. 


fugue in E minor with the C major fugue by Buxtehude will 
confirm this judgment at the first glance, both as to the 
whole and in the details. Many features exactly corre- 
spond : the adornments of the theme, invented with special 
regard to the pedal, and which are at once brilliant and easy; 
their repeated accompaniment of chords in short Iambic 
measure, and much besides. But that a bolder flight and a 
deeper nature animate this masterly piece, it might just 
as well have been written by Buxtehude. 

A prelude and fugue in E flat major must also be men- 
tioned here. 148 Mention has frequently been made of J. 
Jakob Froberger, of Halle, who, in the middle of the seven- 
teenth century, was one of the most prominent masters of 
the clavier and organ, in Germany. Although a native of 
Central Germany, he had devoted himself chiefly to the 
southern type of organ-music, just then raised to its zenith 
by Frescobaldi in Rome. But his performances were known 
and valued throughout Germany, least of all, indeed, in his 
own native province since his education had left him un- 
familiar with the chorale form but much more in the north. 
It has been already noticed that his toccatas contributed to 
the formation of the North German fugue-form, consisting 
of several sections. With regard to free organ composition 
Froberger stands about half-way between the northern and 
southern masters. We are told that in the book belonging 
to Bach's elder brother, which he secretly transcribed for 
himself in Ohrdruf, there were pieces by Froberger, so that 
he had made this master's acquaintance when quite a boy. 149 
The northern masters, of whom he learnt in later life, had, 
it is true, long since overtaken Froberger, but they still 
referred to him, and did not hinder the delight which Bach, 
determined by his earliest impressions, took in his works. 
That this was actually the case, is shown by Adlung, a 
personal friend of Bach, who says : " Froberger was held at 

148 In the legacy of F. W. Rust's brother, who lived at Bernburg; now 
likewise the property of Dr. Rust in Berlin. It bears the date, " Bernburg, 


149 Mizler, p. 160 

Y 2 


that time in high honour by the late Bach, of Leipzig, 
although he was somewhat antiquated." 150 But in the 
nature of the case, it cannot be thought that Froberger 
had any important or direct influence on Bach through 
his own works ; the principal elements of Froberger's genius 
were probably transmitted to him through the northern 
masters, with whom he stood in closer connection than with 
Frobergei . 

In fact the only work where beside or beneath Buxtehude's 
manner that of Froberger appears at all, is this same prelude 
and fugue. It was a favourite device with this master to 
display at the beginning and end of his toccatas a kind of 
passage-writing accompanied with chords now lying above 
and now underneath ; these passages consist of notes of 
different values irregularly mixed, and are easily recognisable 
by this restless character. From such a germ grew the pre- 
lude of Buxtehude, who, however, added the elements of 
proportion, order, and development; his "finales" or pero- 
rations, ingenious as they are, are allied to the finale passages 
of Froberger's toccatas. Bach's composition reminds us 
strongly of Froberger, not only in the form of the running 
passages (e.g., the phrase of zig-zag descending semiquavers) 
and the massive chords, but also in the repetition of the fugue 
in a form adorned with trivial figures which have no inner 
connection with it, expanded to a length which in later times 
the composer never permitted. On the other hand, the 
passages have a quieter flow and more connection by means 
of imitation, as in the works of Buxtehude. Both influences 
seem to me less conspicuous in the fugue ; the theme has 
not sufficient motion for the Liibeck master, and the style 
of contrapuntal invention is not his, while, on the other hand, 
the harmony is too complicated for Froberger. 151 

Among the most important works of this period, is a 
great work for the organ in four sections in C major; in it 
the Buxtehude fugue-form (the extension by means of 
episodes) is seen in full perfection. 152 While the technical 

180 Anleitung zur Mus. Gel., p. 711. 

161 See App. A, No. 15. 

w Peters' Cah. 3 (242), No. 7. B, G, XV., p. 276. See App. A, No. 16, 


power of writing in the greater number of the compositions 
already mentioned leaves scarcely anything to be wished, in 
this the inherent independence is so great that the work is 
all but a perfect masterpiece. The additional superscription 
concertato, which is found in two manuscripts, shows that it 
was intended as a piece for the display of execution, and 
though in this respect it does not come up to Bach's later 
writings, it demands a very high degree of facility both of 
finger and foot, and its effect is powerful and brilliant. 
Probably Bach wrote it for himself when, in the year 1707, 
he was playing in other places besides Arnstadt. We might 
hesitate to assign such an early date, if the fact that this is 
the only instance known of Bach's having written a fugue in 
this form were not clear evidence of his having borrowed it 
from Buxtehude. In later life he cultivated exclusively the 
fugue in one movement which concentrates all its strength 
on internal perfection, and which more fully satisfied his 
nature ; only, in the last period of his working, the older 
form rose once more from the depths of his musical nature 
to the surface, in that most marvellous fugue in E flat major 
in the third part of the Clavierubung. But the theme in its 
original form is plainly influenced by the northern models, 
not to mention the running passages of the prelude and 
of the interlude. But in the fugal working proper we per- 
ceive a new spirit stirring its pinions ; this lovely, flowing 
animation of all the parts, none of which is ever used as a 
mere stop-gap ; this bold, free style of counterpoint in the 
first fugue movement soar high above Buxtehude's more con- 
fined and earth-bound nature to new regions. The second 
fugue movement is remarkable. The triple time, it is true, 
is retained, but the gracefulness and serenity which should 
find a share in this part are altogether absent. It is as 
though such a conclusion were contrary to Bach's nature, 
that " earnest temperament " which is attributed to him in 
the Necrology; 153 here at least he has only superficially 
adopted a form into the spirit of which he did not care to 
enter ; this again assigns the composition to the number of 

"* Mizler, loc. cit., pp. 170 and 171, 


works of development, and suggests a new reason for his 
so soon abandoning Buxtehude's fugue-form. In entire con- 
trast to that master, the formation of the theme is broad and 
heavy, and the working out is the same, nay, almost devo- 
tional ; but later it is enlivened by counterpoint in semi- 
quavers, and closes with majestic breadth of chords. While 
Buxtehude, with a dignified smile, bends down to meet the 
hearer, Bach turns his face heavenwards with a holy gravity. 

But we must remember that the complications between 
our young genius and his authorities were still awaiting 
their solution. Bach considered this quite unnecessary; 
and the eight days in the course of which he was to give in 
his " categorical " explanation had grown into more than 
eight months, without his having fulfilled the wishes of the 
consistory with regard to the trial as to the school-choir. 
This mute resistance, however, was met with renewed 
mildness, and they contented themselves provisionally with 
a repeated summons, the short document of which still 
exists : 

" Actum d. ii. Novemb. 706. 

It is hereby represented to the Organist Bach that he should 
declare whether, as he has been enjoined to do, he will 
make music with the scholars, or will not ; as, if he feels no 
shame in keeping his post in the church and receiving 
the salary, he must also not be ashamed to make music with 
the scholars thereto appointed for the time arranged else- 
where. It is intended that these should exercise them- 
selves (i.e., rehearse), so that for the future the music may 
be better looked after. 

Ille (i.e., Bach) 
Will make the declaration on this subject in writing. 

Nos (i.e., the Consistory) 

Furthermore remonstrate with him on his having latterly 
allowed the stranger maiden to show herself and to make 
music in the choir. 

Has already spoken about it to Master Uthe." 


The expected written "declaration" should follow here, 
for the Consistory cannot possibly have left the affair thus 
only half despatched ; unfortunately we no longer possess it. 
In it Bach would most probably explain his conduct by a 
number of difficulties with the scholars, such, perhaps, as 
their unpunctuality, idleness, insolent behaviour, or their 
musical incapacity, and perhaps, too, by a reference to his 
own striving after the ideal, and his compositions. Thus 
much can be supposed ; but that, in spite of this, the diffi- 
culties which embittered his position were not thoroughly 
remedied is shown by the course of his life during the next 
year. From that time he endeavoured to get away from 
Arnstadt into some other position. We shall soon see 
that it was not for the sake of pecuniary gain, since in 
that respect he might at that time be considered quite 
contented, so that it must have been only inward con- 
siderations which could drive him away. Whether there 
were others besides the affair just mentioned is uncertain, 
but there are no certain grounds on which to found any 
other suppositions. 

The document also mentioned a " stranger maiden," 
with whom Bach had " made music " in the church. He 
had certainly not done it without previously informing his 
clergyman, Master Uthe, 154 but still it was the cause of 
unpleasant remark. It would, however, be erroneous to 
conclude from this that the singer had taken part in the 
service. As long as the form of the old church-cantata was 
retained and this was the dominant form at that time at 
least in Arnstadt the question of employing female voices 
in church music would not be even broached. With the 
introduction of the newer cantata, influenced so essentially 
by operatic vocalisation, there came the occasional disregard 
of the command, " Let your women keep silence in the 
churches." But Bach would certainly never have thought of 
such an innovation, and Uthe as certainly would not have 

184 Magister Just. Christian Uthe (b. 1680), was preacher in the New Church 
from 1704 to 1709 ; see Hesse, Verzeichniss schwarzburgischer Gelehrten and 
Kiinstler. No. 333. Rudolstadt, 1827. 


permitted it, so that the question here can only be of some 
private music in the church. What sort of singer it could 
have been who could make music with Bach in the New 
Church, to the enjoyment of both, is a question which we 
are not without hope of being able to solve. A professional 
singer might certainly have come over from the Brunswick- 
Wolfenbuttel opera by command of the Countess. But, 
considering Bach's nature and musical tendencies, it would 
even then be impossible to imagine what could lead to an 
acquaintance, and even to the intimacy of private music- 
making together, to say nothing of the fact that opera 
singers would certainly have turned up their noses at the 
simple old-fashioned church singing. An event of the next 
year puts us on the right track : Bach's marriage with his 
cousin, the youngest daughter of Michael Bach, of Gehren. 

Maria Barbara, as the bride-elect was named, was born in 
Gehren, October 20, 1684. Her mother is known to have 
been the younger daughter of Wedemann, once Town-clerk 
in Arnstadt, where she lived until her death, October 19, 
1704. In spite of the scattered nature of the evidence it is 
pretty clear that Maria, then twenty years of age, betook 
herself to her mother's unmarried sister, Regina Wedemann, 
in Arnstadt, where Sebastian made her acquaintance and 
fell in love with her. 155 Some musical qualifications surely 
may be presumed in the daughter of one distinguished 
musician and the affianced bride of another the most highly 
gifted of his race and if it were she who in the case 
mentioned was the singer in the church, a delightful episode 
in the courtship of the young couple is disclosed to our view. 
Her being called a " stranger maiden " quite agrees with 
the nature of the facts, since she was grown up when she 
first came to Arnstadt. 

The plan on which Bach wished to found his own family 
shows how he, too, was filled with that patriarchal feeling by 

166 The chief ground of this supposition is confirmed by the account of their 
wedding. As subsidiary evidence may be mentioned the fact that Maria 
Barbara had seveial young companions in Arnstadt whom she afterwards 
invited to Weimar to be godmothers to her children Philipp Emanuel and 
Gottfried Bernhard; among them was a daughter of the organist Herthum. 


which his race was distinguished and brought to such a 
flourishing condition. Without straying into foreign circles 
he found, in a relation who bore his name, the person whom 
he felt to be the most certain of understanding him. If we 
must call it a coincidence, it is, at any rate, a remarkable 
one, that Sebastian, in whom the gifts of his race reached 
their highest perfection, should also be the only one of its 
members to take a Bach to wife. If we are right in 
regarding the marriage union of individuals from families 
not allied in blood as the cause of a stronger growth of 
development in the children, Bach's choice may signify 
that in him the highest summit of a development had been 
reached, so that his instinct disdained the natural way of 
attempting further improvement, and attracted him to his 
own race. His second wife, indeed, was not allied with 
him in blood, but that with the first he found, in some 
respects, his more natural development may perhaps be con- 
cluded from the fact that the most remarkable of his sons 
were all the children of his first marriage. 

In other respects his marriage is a token that by this time 
he regarded the years of his education as at an end. In the 
capacity of perfect executive musician, as well as in that of 
composer, he had gained the topmost height of that time; 
and in the completely acquired technicalities of his art, he 
had himself created the forms in which, from this time forth, 
he cast his surpassingly new and individual thoughts. This, 
of course, was shown at different times in different ways, 
corresponding with the progress of his growth, and vaster, 
deeper, and more original at each stage ; and, side by side with 
this growth, he perfected also his technical powers, so that 
his latest works have scarcely anything in common with the 
earliest but certain general features. The true man never 
ceases to improve and educate himself ; he may be con- 
sidered as fully developed only when his powers correspond 
to his demands upon them. That this was the case 
with Bach is shown plainly by his handwriting. No 
autograph works of this time can be found, it is true, but 
there exist still five acquittances for salary received ; the 
dates are December 16, 1705, February 24, May 26, and 


September 15, 1706, and June 15, lyo;. 156 The writing 
which these display, and which is of a charming clearness, 
elegance, and certainty, is substantially the same as that 
which meets us, full of such characters, in the almost 
innumerable works of his long life. About the time of the 
Matthew Passion and the B minor Mass it is rather bolder 
and larger, but the characteristic features remained so 
identical, that in the carefully and ornamentally written 
scores of that period, as, for example, the cantatas " O ewiges 
Feuer " and " Weinen, Klagen," there is scarcely a percep- 
tible difference from the writing of his twentieth and twenty- 
first years. 

The widely diffused opinion that Bach's development 
was slow in comparison with that of Handel is shown 
to be false, by the fact that his powers during the years 
from twenty to thirty were almost at a standstill, and 
the reverse would be more near the truth. Bach was 
much more influenced by his surroundings than his equally 
great contemporary. It was not only that his extraction 
and old family traditions led him almost intuitively on 
the right way; the object which lay nearest to his heart, 
the perfecting of the art of the organ, was attainable by a 
much simpler method ; he concentrated the efforts of the 
most remarkable of his ancestors, and, as it were, added 
the roof to the edifice which they had left but half-finished, 
completing it with "cloud-capp'd towers." We are not 
now bringing into consideration the undreamt-of paths 
opened out, over and above this perfection, by his colossal 
genius. Handel had to collect the elements of his ideal 
with much greater labour, and the hewing of the separate 
stones of his temple of art was a much longer process ; 
but, as surely as his operas and chamber-music have an 
eminent artistic value, so surely are they not to be compared 
with the instrumental works composed by Bach at the same 

156 The first four of these are in the Rathhaus at Arnstadt ; the last in the 
Ministerial Library at Sondershausen. The acquittance of December 16, 1705, 
is naturally dated too soon or too late, since the receiver was at that time not 
in Ainbtadt. 


time. In exact agreement with this relation between the 
two stands their respective estimation with their contem- 
poraries and with posterity. Bach's fame is founded chiefly 
on the instrumental works of his earlier and middle periods, 
that of Handel on the oratorios composed in his middle and 
later life. 

Just as Bach's nature was more deep than diffuse, so the 
years of his " apprenticeship " and his Wander jahre were 
simultaneous, if indeed there was any period at all which 
could be designated by the last name. At twenty-two 
years old he became " master," and according to true 
German custom the "master" must be married. He 
must also have "apprentices," and from 1707 onward, 
such will demand our notice. 157 

Before this, however, his service in Arnstadt must have 
come to an end. It is related that about this time, in the 
years 1706 and 1707, different situations as organist were 
offered to him at short intervals. 158 His fate was decided 
by a trial performance which took place at Easter in the 
last-named year, in the Church of St. Blasius, at Miihlhausen. 

187 The life of a tradesman or artisan in Germany is divided into three 
periods: First, the apprenticeship (Lehrjahre). Second, the period during 
which he travels and, as it were, " finishes his education" (Wanderjahre), with 
which the original meaning of our "journeyman" corresponds ; and third, the 
period from the time of his entering into his business on his own account, 
onwards the period called " Meisterschaft," or when he is styled Master. 
Readers of Carlyle will remember that the first part of his translation of 
Wilhelm Meister is called " apprenticeship," and the second, " travels." 
This analogy has been followed in the present work the book just concluded 
being called Ausbildungsjahre, or " years of formation," and from the third 
book onwards, " Meisterschaft." [Translators' note.] 

168 This is related by Forkel, and can hardly be pure invention on his part. 







THE post of Organist to the church "Dim Blasii," in the 
free imperial city of Muhlhausen, had risen to special 
celebrity from the many highly gifted artists who had filled 
it during the last century and a half. From 1566 to 1610 
(May 24), Joachim Moller von Burck (born in 1541) the 
friend of Johann Eccard, a man who may be regarded as 
having given the chief impulse to the earnest musical feeling 
for which Muhlhausen was long distinguished 1 laboured 
there. At the end of the year 1654, Johann Rudolf Ahle 
came to fill the post (born 1625), an ^ was as efficient as a 
leader of public affairs as he was as an organist and com- 
poser, for he became a member of the council, and even a 
burgomaster of the town. He died in the prime of life 
(July 8, 1673); from the beginning of the year 1672 his son, 
Johann Georg, had already officiated for him, and he now 
succeeded his father. He was equally distinguished for his 
musical talents, and like him filled a place in the town 
council, and he also won from the Emperor Leopold I. the 
title of poet laureate " for his virtue and splendid talents, but 
particularly for his admirable proficiency in the noble science 
of German poetry and for his rare and delightful style in 
highly commended music, and his elegant compositions." 2 
Both father and son practised musical composition. Johann 

1 His less famous successors were Johann Heydenreich (Moller's son-in-law), 
from 1610 to 1633; Rudolph Radecker, 1633-1634; Hermann Schmied, 1634- 
1649 ; Johann Vockerodt, 1649-1654. These and the following statements con- 
cerning the two Ahles depend for their deviations from all previous accounts 
on the account books of the church of St. Blasius. 

8 See Gerber. N. L., I., Col. 35. 


Georg Able died December 2, 1706, and was interred three 
days later with much honour, as became the respect he had 
enjoyed during his life. 3 

A man to fill the place was not this time easy to find ; 
meanwhile a scholar was intrusted to perform the service 
as best he might. However, candidates were not wanting 
for a position of so much honour, and Bach must have cast 
an eye on it, for in an expression used by his cousin Johann 
Ernst, who exerted himself to become his successor at 
Arnstadt, we certainly may trace an echo of his own views. 
He says in an application laid before the Consistory, 
June 22, 1707, that " it must be known to them that his 
cousin (Sebastian) had had the vacant post of Organist to 
the celebrated church of St. Blasius offered to him, and had 
willingly accepted it on being called." At the same time 
he was not too forward nor hasty in making the council 
of Miihlhausen acquainted with his person and his qualifi- 
cations. The organ-builder, Wender, had wished to induce 
Johann Gottfried Walther, then residing at Erfurt, to come 
over and perform on trial on Sexagesima Sunday of the year 
1707. He, however, for some reason had not consented. 4 
On the other hand a public trial had been made by some 
others, whom Bach easily drove from the field when he 
presented himself, which was not till Easter; when the 
council met, a month later (May 24), they were at once 
agreed on this point, and caused him to be summoned to 
appear a second time that they might treat with him as 
to his reasonable claims in the matter of salary. 5 They 
feared, no doubt, that so great a virtuoso might make 
demands they could not satisfy. But Bach's object was 
not pecuniary advancement, though ere long he had two 

8 " Herr Johann Georg Ahle, buried with the whole school and with two 
tellings, December 5." Extract from the register of the church of Divi Blasii. 
The funeral took place three days after the death, as is the custom still. 

4 According to his own statement, in Mattheson (Ehrenpforte), who, however, 
confounds the younger with the elder Ahle. There was never any question 
oi an invitation to Walther refused by him before the invitation to Bach. 
Compare Gerber, Lex., II. 

6 The documents relating to Bach are reproduced at full length in App., B. V. 
of the German edition. They are devoid of interest for the English reader. 


to provide for; and when, three weeks later, he treated in 
person with the council, he obtained only the same salary 
as he had had in Arnstadt, besides such payments in kind 
AS his predecessor had enjoyed. It is true that even so his 
emoluments exceeded those granted to Ahle by nearly twenty 
gulden, for Ahle had, from the year 1677, only been paid 
sixty-six gulden and fourteen groschen; 6 and his father had 
received even less. Bach's salary, accordingly, was as much 
as eighty-five gulden, 7 with three matter (coombs) of corn, two 
cords of wood, and six trusses of brushwood, as an equivalent 
for the arable land previously attached to the office. The 
payments in kind were to be delivered at his door. He also 
received, according to the custom of the place, an annual do- 
nation of three pounds of fish. He expressly added a hope that 
he might be assisted in transporting his furniture by the loan 
of a vehicle ; naturally enough the dowry of the young bride 
he was shortly to bring home lay near the bridegroom's heart. 
The council acceded to everything, and all the more 
readily since it was at the moment sorely pressed by other 
concerns ; for only a fortnight previously a serious fire at 
night had in great part destroyed the dwellings in the parish 
of St. Blasius, to which Bach was henceforth to belong ; 
the fire had raged so close to the church and the priests' 
houses that the books belonging to Frohne, its Superin- 
tendent, had been flung into a cellar, where they remained 
several weeks. 8 Many members of the churchwardenry 
were houseless ; and when the clerk of the council brought 
them the agreement to sign, pens and ink were lacking, and 
they declared that they had just then no thought for music, 
and that they were satisfied with the decisions of the council. 
It was the handsomest and wealthiest part of the city that 
had been destroyed by the fire, 9 and the first impression pro- 

6 " 70 schock " according to the parish accounts, i schock = 20 groschen ; 
I meissen gulden = 21 groschen. 

7 In Arnstadt he had had only 84 gulden 6 groschen, accurately speaking, 
for his salary had been paid him in various coinage. 

8 According to a statement made by Frohne himself during the litigation that 

It is thus stated in the penitential prayer referring to this disaster. 



duced on Bach by his future home must have been dismal 
and comfortless. That he was nevertheless well content 
shows that he was glad to quit Arnstadt ; he had no doubt 
ample reason : release from onerous official relations, the 
acquisition of a post which was doubly honourable by reason 
of his youth, and the near prospect of setting up house. 

His instalment dated from June 15, thus his new duties 
began from the Crucis term of the year (ending September 
14). On June 29 he presented himself at the council-house 
of Arnstadt, announced what had occurred, expressed his 
gratitude for the confidence that had been placed in him, 
craved his dismissal, and restored the key of the organ to 
the hands of the council. He did not wait to receive part 
of his salary which was in arrear ; it often happened that 
there was no money in the coffers, then the salary was 
simply not paid, and the persons concerned left to manage 
as best they could. On this occasion Sebastian Bach availed 
himself of his credit, to obtain assistance for his needy 
cousin Ernst, who had lived in Arnstadt for many years 
without any appointment. He had very likely filled his 
place during his journey to Llibeck, and had perhaps been 
of assistance to him previously in Hamburg when Sebastian 
made an excursion thither from Ltineburg, for it may be 
approximately calculated that the two had met there at least 
once. This was the desired opportunity for repaying such 
services ; and the sum was not so trifling as it appears, for 
five gulden are an item of some importance out of a whole 
income of less than eighty-five gulden, particularly when a 
wedding and a removal are close at hand; five gulden indeed 
formed an eighth part of the annual salary subsequently 
obtained by Ernst Bach. 10 That Sebastian thought he could 
do without it shows what good spirits he was in, and also 
throws a clear light on his simple and modest way of life. 

He now started afresh, and with youthful confidence in 

10 That it was but a quarter of the sum that Sebastian received can be 
positively proved from the account-books and receipts in the archives of the 
town-council of Arnstadt, in connection with the official statements as to 
Johann Ernst's salary. It is not necessary here to go into the details of the 


his new circumstances. At the end of three months all was 
so far arranged that he could fetch his wife home to his own 
house, and for this purpose he returned once again to 
Arnstadt. At Dornheim, a village about three-quarters of a 
mile distant, Johann Lorenz Stauber had, since 1705, rilled 
the place of minister, and had been in close intimacy with 
the Bach family. His first wife, Anna Sophie Hoffmann, very 
possibly belonged to the family at Suhl from which Johann 
and Heinrich Bach had formerly chosen their wives. After 
her death (June 8, 1707) he married again, in about a year's 
time, that same Regina Wedemann with whom, as we may 
suppose, Maria Barbara, Bach's betrothed, was living. This 
would explain why it was he, who on October 17, 1707, 
performed the wedding of our young couple. Count Anton 
Giinther gave his express permission, and for them the pre- 
scribed fees for Arnstadt were remitted ; and it is evident 
from this friendly and courteous conduct that Bach and his 
patrons had parted without any grudge or ill-feeling. The 
notice inserted by Stauber himself in the parish register 
betrays in its details much personal interest. It runs as 
follows : " On October 17, 1707, the respectable Herr 
Johann Sebastian Bach, a bachelor, and organist to the 
church of Saint Blasius at Muhlhausen, the surviving lawful 
son of the late most respectable Herr Ambrosius Bach, the 
famous town-organist and musician of Eisenach, was married 
to the virtuous maiden Maria Barbara Bach, the youngest 
surviving unmarried daughter of the late very respectable 
and famous artist Herr Johann Michael Bach, organist at 
Gehren ; here in our house of God, by the favour of our 
gracious ruler, after their banns had been read in Arnstadt." 11 
A particularly fortunate coincidence added to their happiness: 
Tobias Lammerhirt, an elder brother of Sebastian's deceased 
mother, and a well-to-do burgess of Erfurt, had died in 
September of the same year, and left fifty gulden to each of 

11 In the marriage register at Arnstadt the record of this marriage is also 
preserved. The father of Maria Barbara is there styled Mstr. (Meister) Johann 
Michael Bach. The title of meister or master probably refers to Michael Bach's 
skill as an instrument maker. 

Z 2 


his sister's children. 12 His will was read September 18, and 
as nothing stood in the way of an immediate payment of the 
legacy, this sum must have come in precisely in time for the 
wedding. Sebastian might perhaps have felt as though his 
lost mother herself had pronounced a blessing on this union, 
and the young couple went to their new home joyful and 

Miihlhausen enjoyed a good reputation for music ; at the 
time, however, when Bach came thither it had greatly 
degenerated from a past time, in which it could boast of 
Joachin von Burck and Johann Eccard, Georg Neumark 
and Johann Rudolf Able, and when a " musical society" 18 
had collected together the instrumental and vocal forces of 
the town and surrounding country in great numbers, for 
regular practisings. Johann Georg Able had started on a 
path which, exclusively followed out, must inevitably result 
in waste of power. His father, it is true, had also had a 
predilection, which sprang from his own subjective piety, for 
sacred arias in the form of hymns divided into verses and 
set for one or more voices with instrumental " ritornels," or 
interludes. But sometimes he could hit upon a general and 
comprehensive musical idea, so that not a few of these 
evince a fitness for congregational singing; and he was very 
well acquainted with the greater and more complicated 
forms of the sacred concerto, and in this had followed up 
with success the course opened out by Hammerschmidt. 
Another side of his artistic faculty is shown by some im- 
portant productions in the way of organ compositions, still 
extant, with which his skill as an organ-player must have 
corresponded, and which have hitherto remained unknown. 14 
The style of the chorales, which for the most part are treated 
in the manner of motetts, is, it is true, somewhat arbitrary 
and lacking in design, as might be expected from the infancy 

13 City archives of Erfurt. 

18 I have derived my information respecting this society in the seventeenth 
century from the documentary sources in the Monatshefte fur Musikgeschichte 
II., pp. 70-76 (Berlin : Trautwein, 1870). 

14 Of his activity as a church composer a complete picture, written con 
is given by Winterfeld, Evangel. Kirchenges., II., pp. 296-328. 


of that branch of art at the period. But here and there 
unmistakable tendencies towards the style of Pachelbel are 
already apparent, and it is instructive and interesting to 
observe how a dim and shadowy ideal is here darkly felt 
for, which, like every genuine truth, seems plain and self- 
evident as soon as it is found. Ahle's fugues are also 
remarkable historic monuments. The form of the quin- 
tenfuge 15 is not yet brought to its full perfection in them; 
sometimes the theme is answered first in the octave and 
then in the fifth, involving another response in the octave ; 
it even occurs that the answer remains for the time exclu- 
sively in the octave. Stretto treatment is in great favour 
even at 'the very beginning ; the character of the key-treat- 
ment wavers between the old and new ; the use of the pedal 
is irregular, and presupposes very indifferent technical skill. 
Two-part writing predominates in the polyphonic sections, 
and the parts are often repeated in a transposed form, either 
higher or lower. Notwithstanding a 1 their want of develop- 
ment, these organ works testify to an earnest and thorough 
dealing with the subject, and bear an unmistakable instru- 
mental stamp. 16 

Johann Georg Able had not the musical versatility of 
Johann Rudolf, but confined himself, so far as we know, to 
sacred arias and little pieces for several instruments. He 
was fond of combining the two in short compositions ; 
adding to an air a prelude and a finale, in which he 
frequently used the motive of the air as the theme, and for 
this he made pleasing use of the dance rhythms of that 
time. 17 Compositions for the organ were seldom printed, 
and it may be an accident that we do not know of any such 
in manuscript; still the great fertility which he displayed 
in the aria form points this out as being his chief province ; 

15 I.e., a fugue of which the subject is answered at the interval of a fifth. 

16 They will be found in the collection (Musikaliensammlung) of Herr Musik- 
director Ritter, by whom they were copied from the Tabulaturbuch of 1675, 
mentioned above. Fortunately; for the precious musical legacy of Hilde- 
brand, the organist of Miihlhausen, was sold by his heirs to a butcher, as I 
discovered to my sorrow in the winter of 1867-68. 

M Winterfeld, Op. Cit., 328-342. 


and this is hard to combine with the broad objective solem- 
nity of the organ. The sacred aria contained in itself no 
conditions, either in form or idea, of any richer develop- 
ment. It rose to importance by drawing the deepest 
feelings of the soul to the surface, and by developing the 
tone-material in its subtlest details. But in the construc- 
tion of the great musical forms of Bach and Handel it was 
only indirectly made use of, and from the beginning of the 
eighteenth century onwards, its independent importance 
was lost for musical art, which henceforth, full of a 
soaring spirit, strove after broad and catholic express 
sion. By constantly mirroring our own mind in the smaller 
forms of art, we easily lose the sense of proportion, as well 
as our interest in what lies outside us. Thus was it with 
Georg Able; and the people of Miihlhausen, long accus- 
tomed to regard their musicians as ample authorities, had 
followed him in this, and gave little or no attention to what 
was passing in the mus cal world round about them. 

Into this situation came Bach, who had perfectly mastered 
all that had hitherto been achieved in the art of organ- 
playing and in the " church cantata " form, and was already 
eagerly striving for something greater, above and beyond these. 
To this young and ardent soul the fame of his predecessor 
must have been an additional spur to produce something 
worthy of his post. According to the terms of his appoint- 
ment he was obliged to play the organ in the church of St. 
Blasius only on Sundays, saints'-days, and festivals. But 
he had already formed the determination to elevate church 
music in general to a higher grade, and in an address sub- 
sequently presented to the council he twice expressly notified 
this as the end and aim of his endeavour. 

A sure and unerring instinct for the field in which the 
full display of strength will be possible, has been in all times 
a mark of genius ; and little as Bach may then have thought 
whither this clearly shown way would ultimately lead him, 
such an utterance from the lips of an artist of twenty-three 
years old was very significant. He extended his activity into 
the province of sacred vocal music, although this properly 
fell within the cantor's sphere of work ; nay, it seems as 


though he may have managed it quite alone. Possibly this 
may have been customary with his predecessors here, and 
so such an encroachment may have been more easily prac- 
ticable. With his views of art, he obviously could not endure 
the preponderance of Ahle's compositions, and as there 
existed at Mlihlhausen very few church compositions besides 
these, he procured at his own expense, and in a short time, 
a sterling selection, and had them performed. He tried to 
complete the church choir as well as the accompanying 
instruments, and it will be understood that he did his utmost 
in playing the organ. In all this he was aided by his first 
pupil, Johann Martin Schubart (born March 8, 1690, in 
Gehra, near Ilmenau), who lived in close intimacy with him 
for full ten years, and by this faithful adherence proved how 
great an attraction Bach's youthful genius and great powers 
of fascination could exert over other musicians if they 
approached him without prejudice or vanity. In the year 
1717 Schubart succeeded his master in Weimar, but died four 
years after, in the prime of life. The name also of Bach's 
choir-leader can be given ; it was Johann Sebastian Koch, who 
was born in 1689 a * Ammern, near Mtihlhausen, held this post 
from 1708 to 1710, and died as cantor in Schleiz. 18 

In his indefatigable zeal for his art Bach was not unmindful 
of the state of music in the immediate neighbourhood, and he 
must have noticed that often more material of a better kind 
for the church was available there than in the town itself. 
Among the surrounding villages Langula, however, has been 
distinguished from the beginning of the eighteenth century 
to the present time by having a succession of well-qualified 
cantors and an active feeling for music. That Bach was 
known there is plain from a church cantata of his composition 
which I myself discovered in the " Cantorei " (the cantor's 
house), and which is recognisable as an early work, appa- 
rently belonging to his Miihlhausen time. 19 It is incomplete, 

18 Walther, Lexicon, Art. " Schubart " and " J. S. Koch." 

19 Everything of value in the way of old music that had belonged to the 
Cantor Sachs of Langula came into my hands in 1868. But I only acquired 
a copy made by him of Bach's cantata, and not the original MS. The first 
chorus had meanwhile been lost. 


and is adorned with some certain and other apparent addi- 
tions by later cantors at Langula; still it offers some genuine 
matter for the consideration of the historian. The first piece, 
a duet for soprano and bass, in F major, beginning with 
the words " Meine Seele soil Gott loben," &c., is still treated, 
as regards the bass part, quite in the style of the older church 
cantatas, and greatly resembles them in the melodic treat- 
ment ; it is, however, already cast in the form of the Italian 
aria, and has a few interesting passages. The concluding 
fugue in B flat major, "Alles was Odem hat," &c., is a 
splendid piece, full of fire, of which the bold and soaring 
theme may be given as a specimen : 

Al-les was O-dem hat lo - be den Herrn, lo - be, lo - be, lo-beden Ilenn. 

This great advance in melody is displayed also in another 
cantata composed at Miihlhausen, which, as it lies before us 
in the most perfect state and in an unfalsified form, shall be 
subjected to a more exact examination, as befits the first- 
fruits of the young master's labours. 

The affairs of the city were managed by a council consisting 
of forty-eight members (of whom six were burgomasters), 
and divided into three sections, each consisting of sixteen 
persons. Each of these in rotation controlled the muni- 
cipality for a year, from February to February, presided 
over by two burgomasters. It was the custom that each 
change of council should be celebrated with a church festi- 
val and a piece of music composed for the occasion, which 
was then printed in parts at Miihlhausen at the press of 
Joh. Hiiter or of Tob. Dav. Bruckner. For a long time 
it had been the duty of the Organist of Saint Blasius to 
compose this music ; he, in fact, by ancient tradition was 
regarded as the representative of the musical dignity of the 
city, and the organist of the other great church Beatcz 
Maria Virginis seems always to have been second to him 
in importance ; his name in Bach's time was Hetzehenn. It 
is to the inauguration of a new section of the council, presided 
over by the burgomasters Strecker and Steinbach, that a 



cantata by Bach, composed for February 4, 1708, owes its 
origin and also its publication in such a style as, so far as 
I know, was never bestowed on any other cantata during 
Bach's lifetime. Not only has this edition been preserved 
to us, bul^also the score and the parts, in an autograph 
of charming elegance and neatness ; and in the score the 
bars are marked, as they often are in the master's earlier 
works, with lines drawn with a ruler. 20 The performance 
took place in the church of the Holy Virgin, in which 
the superintendent of Saint Blasius also had to preach on 
certain holy days. 

The text of the cantata consists of verses from the Old 
Testament, a few rhymed verses of an occasional hymn, and 
a verse of a chorale ; it first expresses the feelings of a grey- 
headed servant who longs only to end his days in peace, 21 
and who receives benedictions to that effect ; it then turns to 
the governing power of the Almighty, implores Him to protect 
the city, to grant success to the new ministry, and finally 
to give health and happiness to the Emperor Joseph. The 
preponderance of Biblical texts and of the chorale caused 
Bach to give his composition the title of a motett, and not ol 
swoncerto, the designation which he subsequently most usually 
adopted. So far as I have discovered, the older sacred cantatas 
were named only by the first words of the text, and the name 
cantata only came into use with the later form. This title is 
an instance of the undefined character of the motett at that 
period; subsequently Bach distinguished exactly between the 
different classes. By the prefix " diviso in quatuor chori" he 
distinctly indicates the point of view of the older cantatas 
with regard to the accompaniment, since by this he 
comprehends the various groups of instruments: three 
trumpets and drums, two flutes and a violoncello, two oboes 
and a bassoon, two violins, viola, and bass, used for the most 

20 B. G., XVIII., p. 3 to 34. It is evident from what has been said that the 
cantata should be designated as composed not for an "election" but a "change" 
of councillors. 

21 Whether among the retiring members there were any very old men, to 
whom the cantata particularly referred, I cannot tell. The burgomasters for 
the year 1707 were Johann Georg Stephan and Christian Grabe. 


part alternately or tutti?* The same principle is to be traced 
in this of a division into a "weaker" and a full orchestra, the 
full orchestra coming in only in strong passages, and then 
withdrawing again, and in the score this is termed the capella 
a recurrence to the terminology of the seventeenth century. 
If now we take a comprehensive view of the massive 
character of the material at command, it is clear how 
entirely this composition still stands, as to external form, on 
the same ground as certain church cantatas by Buxtehude ; 
and this makes it all the more interesting to observe how a 
new spirit pervades the whole. The first chorus (" Gott ist 
mein Konig"), C major, sounds at first tolerably familiar, 
but from the sixteenth bar, where on the words " der alle 
Hiilfethut" "who is our only help" the voices incessantly 
follow each other in close imitation, it assumes a new and 
unusually broad character, which is only weakened somewhat 
at the close. In the second number (E minor) the tenor sings 
to an organ accompaniment the words of old Barzillai, 
II. Samuel, xix. 35 : "I am this day fourscore years old; 
wherefore then should thy servant be yet a burden to my 
lord the king ? I will turn back, that I may die in my own 
city, by the grave of my father and of my mother." In 
opposition to this the soprano gives forth the sixth verse of 
Hermann's hymn : 

And should my days be yet 
Extended in their span, 
Should I with stumbling feet 
Tread the last goal of man, 
Then lend me patience, Lord! 
From sin and error save ; 
Let my grey hairs go down 
In honour to the grave ! 

We know that the combination of Bible words with suitable 

28 The wood-wind instruments and the violoncello (this last only for con- 
venience) are written in D major, while the cantata is in C major. We see 
from this that the pitch or the organ of St. Blasius was a whole tone above 
the ordinary pitch. No transposition was necessary for the trumpets as they 
were always made to what we should now call concert-pitch (see Mattheson, 
Neu eroffnetes Orchestre). 


verses of chorales was no invention of that time. Following 
Hammerschmidt's precedent, Johann Rudolf Ahle had em- 
ployed them together with dexterity. Johann Christoph 
and Michael Bach, with others, had transferred them to the 
motett ; in Buxtehude's cantatas we find an example where 
Christ and the believing soul converse, though not in simul- 
taneous, yet in alternate musical phrases. All these modes 
of musical construction are entirely different from the method 
struck out by Bach. He came to the task, in the first place, 
approaching the question only from the musical side, his 
whole development having been derived from the organ ; the 
musical welding of the subject was of the first importance to 
him, and the chorale-tune naturally the main subject. So 
little did he direct his attention to the poetical aim of such 
combinations, that he quite failed to see how the contents of 
the chorale-verses, chosen in all cases by himself, had 
properly nothing whatever to do with the feeling of the Bible 
words. For in one case an old man is speaking, who only 
longs for a place in which to die in peace, while the other 
prays that his later years if granted to him may be honourable ; 
the two frames of mind have not much more in common 
than that they both suit the conception of old age. But still 
less is there any feeling of dramatic fitness ; the fact of the 
Bible words being intrusted to the tenor voice, and not to 
the bass, makes it clear that the composer wishes at any rate 
to give expression to what he himself feels, and not to what 
would be the emotion of an old man in Barzillai's place. 
This is borne out still more by the structure of the melody, 
which, though touching and indeed very expressive, moves 
up and down in bold steps, nay, even leaps. Even this 
Bach first conceived instrumentally, and wrote for no techni- 
cally educated singer, or it could not have escaped him 
what eccentric expression such a song must acquire when 
executed by a human voice with all its capabilities of ex- 
pression at command. It was not long before he detected 
this great distinction, and in later times his solo songs show 
the pure gold of a feeling which, though fused in instrumental 
fire, is still musically poetic, and at the same time he learnt 
to comprehend the poetic feeling of the interweaving of the 


words of chorales with passages of Scripture with a depth 
unapproached by any one before or after him. 

Here he offers us at first merely a chorale for the organ 
constructed on the lines of Buxtehude, but with a vigour and 
depth of harmony undreamt of by that writer. The piece 
is strictly speaking a trio for soprano, tenor, and an accom- 
panying organ-bass, in which the parts move with the 
greatest possible independence an independence never ven- 
tured on before Bach : there appears however another part, 
in free counterpoint and independent of the harmonies of the 
general bass, coming in at first in an unobtrusive and echo-like 
way, and afterwards given out on the choir organ, ultimately 
forming a quartet. Then comes a double fugue in four 
parts ; " Dein Alter sei wie dein Jugend," &c. (in A minor), 
the theme of which, compared with that quoted from the 
other cantata, is somewhat unmeaning and laboured, and 
the working-out rather mechanical. The counter-subjects 
remain tolerably similar throughout the entire fugue, and 
are only to be distinguished by their position ; the de- 
velopments 28 are only once interrupted by an episode, and 
are wound up with a free coda of nine bars long, in which 
we for the first time trace again the quickening breath of 
Bach's spirit. This little spot of sterile ground is amply 
compensated for by a refreshing arioso for the bass : " Tag 
und Nacht sind dein," in F major. Bach deals very 
arbitrarily with the nomenclatures in the cantata, for the 
bass solo is a regular da capo aria, while the second number, 
called "Aria con Corah" exhibits in the tenor voice an 
entirely arioso treatment. There may be differences of 
opinion as to the conception of the words of the text, but 
the music, as music, is throughout delightful. The treatment 
of the bass voice in the arioso has still, except in the middle 
portion, the older stamp, in accordance with which the 
voice does not move freely through its full compass, but 
appears for the most part as the basis of the harmonies. 

The first part, which returns at the end, has a tender, 
pastoral character, being accompanied only by the wood 



instruments, the violoncello and the organ ; a character 
which blossomed into full beauty in a charming aria in B 
flat major to the words " Was mir behagt," &c., occurring 
in a secular cantata composed eight years later. In the 
second part the instruments are silent, except the organ; 
and the majestic expression of the solo " Du machest, dass 
beide, Sonn, und Gestirn, ihren gewissen Lauf haben," forms 
a fine musical contrast, and is also well adapted to the words. 
Moreover, the arrangement of the whole work bears witness 
that the composer knew very well how to produce his effect 
by contrasts of sound; and this was no less conspicuous in 
his maturer age than in his youth, though from higher con- 
siderations, such effects in later times became subordinate. 
Now there follows an aria for alto, accompanied only by 
three trumpets and drums, without organ, while in the 
chorus which follows this, all the instruments except these 
are used, the whole of the tone-materials not being reunited 
until the final chorus. This alto solo is called " aria " 
perhaps because the first phrase with its refrain is heard 
again at the close, but it is more strictly an arioso, and 
reminds one at last by its superficial melodiousness of the 
older German air: we find a hybrid form of similar in- 
definiteness in the Easter cantata of the year 1704. The 
chorus already named (larghetto, C minor) is on the other 
hand a work full of meaning and individuality. The treat- 
ment is homophonic, and its effects are principally due to 
the innate expression of the melody and the richly coloured 
accompaniment. The semiquavers of the violoncello follow 
in arpeggios the harmonic progress of the body of voices ; a 
running figure in the bassoon part 

gives it the character of weight and coherence, the double- 
bass and the organ accompany staccato, and the most 
expressive phrase of the melody is re-echoed by the flutes 
and oboes. In the course of the movement the violoncello 
figure is communicated to these instruments, and at last to 


all the violins, and they weave rich and fanciful garlands 
about the vocal parts, in which a thought as new it is 
effective all the voices combining in unison declaim the 
words first on c, rising then to d' flat, sinking again to 6 
flat and returning to c' t where they die away the major in 
long drawn-out notes. 

A terrible expression of suppressed pain is the height to 
which the character of the whole piece naturally leads us. 
But if we look for the justification of this character in the 
text, it is easy to perceive that Bach has coloured the tone- 
picture much too darkly. The words of the psalm: "O 
deliver not the soul of thy turtle-dove into the multitude of 
the wicked," contains only metaphorically a prayer for pro- 
tection from the violence of the enemy ; and for this prayer, 
not less than for the general feeling of the whole cantata, a 
calm trustful sentiment is the only fit one. Again, one single 
heart, overwhelmed with deep sorrow, expresses itself as a 
chorus ; the composer has here overshot the mark, and has 
so far failed ; still, this failure is of the highest psychological 
interest, because it betrays unequivocally his own predilec- 
tion for dark, deeply moved conditions of the soul. This 
chord of his sensitive faculty needed only the lightest touch 
to set it in full vibration ; the fear of possible danger became 
deepened with him (in this case) into the agony of a mind 
tormented to the last degree by terror and distress. Hence 
it also follows that no case is found in which Bach's musical 
treatment either weakens a really good text or fails to do 
it full justice ; on the contrary, he is apt to involve himself 
too deeply in its meaning, even to the point of abstruseness. 
Hence springs his propensity for setting words which have 
to do with sorrow and tears, with dying and death ; hence 
also the faculty by which he is enabled, in a gigantic work 
like the St. Matthew Passion, to shadow forth one and the 
same feeling in such unheard-of variety of expression. That 
he allowed himself in the chorus of this " Rathswechsel " 
cantata to be carried away too far by his subjective bias 
must have become plain to him later, when he wrote a chorus 
with a precisely similar fundamental idea, nay, with many 
similar details (particularly the wailing minor sixths) to the 


words, " Weinen, Klagen, Sorgen, Zagen," &c. 24 (Third Sun- 
day after Easter), and afterwards used it again for the heart- 
rending " Crucifixus " of the B minor Mass. Here, indeed, 
these tones were in the place to which they had so early 
and in so startling a manner urged their claim. Even Johann 
Christoph Bach, rich as he was in earnest and intense 
feeling, had upon his palette no colours of such glowing 
fulness. I can only name one who, before Sebastian Bach's 
time, composed anything approaching this, Philip Heinrich 
Erlebach, Capellmeister in Rudolstadt (1657-1714). In the 
first part of his " Harmonischen Freude musikalischer 
Freunde " (1697), under No. XIV., is found a splendid aria 
in the cyclic da capo form for soprano, with accompaniment 
of two violins and figured bass, of which the appealing verse 
expresses the frame of mind of a soul torn by grief. The 
composition unites broad flowing melody and true German 
intensity of feeling, and speaks to this day a pathetic 
language. It comes very near the Bach choruses in expres- 
sion, resembling the earlier ones in the construction of the 
principal melody, and the later ones still more in other 

Circumstances show that Bach may quite well have 
known Erlebach's collection of arias. On October 28, 1705, 
the Count von Rudolstadt, commissioned by the Emperor 
Joseph I., received the homage of the free imperial city of 
Miihlhausen, and on this occasion the Capellmeister made 
and performed there a great " Festmusik " (festival com- 
position). Thus Erlebach was known in Muhlhausen, and 
although we cannot suppose from the character of the in- 
habitants that he would make many friends there by his 
music, yet the composition, which contains an excellent 
chorus, seeming like a prophecy of Handel, was important 
enough not to be at once forgotten, and it might have had 
the effect of spurring on Bach to make a nearer acquaintance 
with Erlebach, if he had not already done so. 

But let us turn to the last chorus of the " Rathscantate," 
to which the direction " arioso" intended for only one 

** Cantata zum Sonntage Jubilate, B.-G., Vol. II., No. 12. 


portion of it, indicates the various changes between the 
homophonic chorus-passages and the refrains, and between 
the bars of common time and the others. The most im- 
portant thing in it is a choral fugue which comes in the 
middle (the words having reference to the Emperor Joseph), 
which is so superior to the earlier fugues that they cannot 
be named together. In those there was hardly anything 
but scholastic severity here a fresh, austere vitality reigns. 
The theme and the counter-subjects of which two recur so 
constantly that the piece might even by its musical form 
be called a triple fugue are very happily invented ; all is 
united together as if it came from one fount, and increases in 
richness of sound and in harmonious fulness up to the end. 
Particularly significant is the co-operation of the orchestra, 
which shows how clearly Bach even now understood that 
in the only church style which was possible at that time, 
the voices and the instruments must be welded together 
into an essentially coherent whole, so completely that the 
first should limit and determine the form, as the superior 
and characterising factors, and yet appear among the in- 
struments, not as masters among servants, but as superiors 
among equals. He had recognised that the human organ 
must, as far as possible, divest itself of its personal or, so 
to speak, dramatic character, and, as much as it can, must 
become an instrument, without an independent identity, 
subservient to the lyrical expression of a common religious 
feeling: with this knowledge all connection with the sentiment 
and craving for individuality of the older church cantatas was 
renounced. While others had formerly used the orchestra 
merely to support, amplify and strengthen the voice-parts 
and to alternate with them, at the utmost only allowing a 
high instrument to have an independent part above the 
choir, Bach gave all the instruments an indispensable part 
in the fugal working-out. At first the theme is once gone 
through by the four parts of the semi-chorus, then it is 
taken by the first violin and oboe, the vocal subject at the 
same time being carried further ; then by the second violin 
and oboe ; now the soprano part of the full choir enters, 
and the orchestral counterpoint is strengthened, then the 


remaining parts of the full choir come gradually in, and with 
them more and more instruments ; the harmony meanwhile 
develops into five and then into six parts, and at last the 
theme is caught up by the shrill blast of the trumpets, which 
until then have purposely been kept silent. A more suitable 
combination of voices and instruments could not be made, 
nor one more skilfully adapted to increase and heighten the 
interest up to the end. 

The appended coda, which is a repetition of an earlier 
passage, is, for a composition of Bach's, comparatively un- 
interesting ; and in estimating this cantata throughout we 
must necessarily use the standard which the master gives 
us in his own best works. When compared with the works 
of his predecessors, it is seen to be for the most part far 
above them and never below them. But in many places 
we find things of a quite new and original type too decidedly 
conspicuous for this comparison to be wholly just. That 
these arose from the only sound and right view we have 
endeavoured to demonstrate. In the combination of chorale 
and Bible words Bach disregards everything that is dramatic 
in order to rise to a general musical idea ; by the reiterated 
use of strict vocal fugue he indicated that he wished all forms 
of choral treatment to be centred in this one form, which 
suppresses as much as possible all personality ; and in the 
last fugue he endeavours to reduce to a minimum the con- 
trast between the voices and the instruments. 

Fugues are very rarely found in the older church cantatas, 
as is only natural from their character ; and such a fugue 
as that last discussed was something entirely new, and so 
were the chorale combinations ; they had only become pos- 
sible by the fact of their having previously been developed 
from the art of organ-playing. One must have before one's 
eyes the vocal fugue-writing of the older masters of that 
time in order to appreciate properly the immense advance. 
What little had already been timidly attempted by others 
before him in this direction vanished before the unfailing 
certainty with which the twenty-two-year-old Bach com- 
prehended the right and only possible way of treating the 
subject. Under the decay of unaccompanied vocal music the 

2 A 


organ became the means by which the ideal of devotional art 
was kept purest in Germany; from it this ideal was to rise 
again with renewed strength, more subjective since the 
musician had had more unlimited command of the dead 
instrument than he could have of living men and so much 
the more esoteric and hard to understand as the province 
of instrumental music is deeper and more mysterious, but 
not on that account the less worthy to express the sub- 
limest religious ideal. The point now was to find the happy 
medium, and not to allow the poetic element to be quite 
overwhelmed in the waves of pure music. 

Directly after the composition and performance of this 
cantata, Bach took into consideration a new problem, the 
fitting solution of which was of great importance in the 
development of church music as he conceived of it. The 
organ in the Blasiuskirche although it had been largely 
repaired in the years 1687-1691 by J. F. Wender at a cost of 
450 thalers stood in need of thorough repair nay, even 
of a partial restoration. The number of bellows was insuffi- 
cient for the size of the organ ; the passage of the air into 
the wind-chest in the bass had been inadequately fixed ; 
there was no 32-feet stop, and the pedal trombone had no 
strength ; in the great organ a number of the stops were 
out of order, and the Brustwerk had become quite useless. 
Bach ascertained all these deficiencies, and presented to the 
council a scheme for the repairs mentioned above. As an 
entirely new addition he put into his plan a pedal Glocken- 
spiel (a peal of twenty-four small bells acted upon by pedals) 
invented by himself, in which the parishioners of St. Blasius' 
Church took such an interest that they determined to get 
it at their own expense. 25 Besides the principal organ 
there was in the church a small chamber organ, placed in 

" The subsequent organist of Waldenburg, Voigt, a native of Miihlhausen, 
says in his Gesprach von der Musik zwischen einem Organisten und Adjuvanten 
(Erfurt, 1742, p. 38): " He (an unknown musician) fell hereupon to talking of 
Herr Bach, and if I knew him, as he had learnt that I was a Thuringian and a 
native of Miihlhausen, and he, Herr Bach, had been organist of Miihlhausen. 
I replied that I well remembered having seen him, though not more than that, 
seeing that I was only twelve years old, and had not been there since for thirty 


the choir below the organ, which was only used for prac- 
tising the choir, or for the unobtrusive accompanying of 
motetts, but was not otherwise of use. Bach wished to 
employ this in the second theme of the Rathscantate, very 
softly, as an echo of the vocal melody, and to introduce it as 
a fourth part, probably before he was aware that the per- 
formance would not take place in the Blasiuskirche. 26 He 
now proposed to give up this little instrument, so as to 
obtain the restoration of the large organ, which was the 
principal thing, at a less cost. His scheme showed so much 
practical knowledge that the council, at a sitting on Feb- 
ruary 21, not only determined at once to effect the restora- 
tion, but charged him in all confidence with the manage- 
ment of the undertaking. 27 As regards the work, it was 
again given to Wender, who was prepared to do it for 230 
thalers, for which he was also to supply the materials ; he 
allowed 40 thalers for the little organ. Bach's scheme 
testifies to his masterly knowledge of the technicalities of 
organ-building, and is also very interesting from its original 
and thoroughly artistic style of expression ; it is as follows 

Specification of the new Repairs of the Organ of St. Blasius. 

1. The defects of the wind to be rectified by three new proper bellows, 

so that justice can be done to the Oberwerk, the Ruckpositiv, and 
the new Brustwerk. 

2. The four old bellows which still exist must be applied with stronger 

wind power to the new 32-feet stop, and to the other bass stops. 

3. The old bass wind-chests must all be taken out and renewed, being 

provided with such arrangements for the passage of the wind that 
a single stop, and then all the stops directly afterwards, can be 
used without changing the wind supply, which heretofore has 
never been done in this way, and yet is very necessary. 

years. He had added a Glockenspiel to the St. Blasius' church, but hardly was 
it ready when, to the great indignation of the council of Miihlhausen, he was 
summoned to Weimar as Kammer-musicus." 

26 This easily accounts for the fact that in the printed organ part these 
passages do not occur. In the Marienkirche they were played on the second or 
third manual if there was no separate chamber-organ there ; in the latter case 
the statement in the text must be modified accordingly. 

a7 As is shown by the document as to Bach's demand for his dismissal. 

2 A 2 


4. The 32-feet wood sub-bass, or the so-called Untersatz (support), 

which gives to the whole organ the greatest weight, comes next. 
This must have a separate wind-chest. 28 

5. The bass trombone (Posaune) must be furnished with new and 

large pipes, and the mouthpieces arranged in quite a different 
way, by which means a much greater gravity of tone can be got. 

6. The new Glockenspiel on the pedals, which the parishioners wish 

for, consisting of twenty-six bells of 4-feet tone ; which bells the 
parishioners have already procured at their own cost, and the 
organ-builder will make them available. As regards the upper 
manual, there must be put in, instead of the trumpet (which must 
be taken out) a 

7. Fagotto (bassoon), of i6-feet tone, which shall be available for the 

new and generally used inventions, and give a very refined tone 
to the music. Furthermore, instead of the gemshorn, which must 
be then taken out, let there come a 

8. Viol di gamba, 8 feet, which may agree in admirable concord with 

the existing salicional, 4 feet, on the choir. Also, instead of the 
3-feet quint, which must likewise be taken out, let a 3-feet 

9. Nassat (nason) be put in. The other existing stops of the upper 

manual may remain, as well as the whole of those in the choir, 
though they must be newly voiced throughout in the course of the 

10. The following stops will be the essential part of the new front 

choir-organ (Brustpositiv) : 

In the front of it three principal stops, viz. 

1. Quint, 3 feet, \ 

2. Octave, 2 feet, I made of good 7-02. tin. 

3. Schalemoy, 29 2 feet, ) 

4. Mixture. Three ranks. 

5. Tertia, with which in combination with several other 
stops, a good full " sesquialtera " tone may be obtained. 

6. " Fleute douce," 4 feet; and lastly a 

7. Stillgedackt, 8 feet (i.e., a soft gedackt), which may sound 
well in combination, and if made of good wood will sound much 
better than a metal gedackt. 

11. There must be a coupler to combine these (front choir and the 

swell) manuals. And last of all, besides the thorough voicing 
of the whole organ, the tremulant must be so put right that its 
action may be regular. 

Thus Bach displayed on every occasion his earnest 

88 I.e., Because there would be no room in the principal chest for this newly 
introduced stop. 
& I.e., the Chalumeau. 


desire to do his part in the interests of church music. But 
hindrances soon came in the way of his zeal, and these in 
the course of a few months must have increased so greatly 
that he could already make up his mind, in the summer of 
that year, to leave unfinished the work he had begun with 
so much ardour. In his application for dismissal he speaks 
of "obstacles which had beset him. and which would not 
be removed by any means so easily." By this we must 
understand in the first place the disposition of a portion of 
the municipality of Miihlhausen which clung to old fashions 
and customs, and neither could nor would follow Bach's 
bold flights, and even looked askance at the stranger who 
conducted himself so despotically in a position which, as 
far back as the memory of man extended, had always been 
filled by a native of the city, and for its sole honour and 
glory. In proportion as the inhabitants watched with pride 
and delight the acts and deeds of any distinguished fellow- 
citizen, they were wont some of them at least to be cold 
and repellent to anything that came from outside. It was 
noted as a matter of great moment in a MS. chronicle of 
the year 1794 that, at the consecration of the church of St. 
Mary Magdalen in the year 1704, Johann Georg Ahle had 
composed the hymn "Lobt ihr frommen." But the same 
chronicler takes no notice of Erlebach's grand composition 
performed in the following year. And when we read that 
Bach's successor, Christoph Bieler, of Schmalkalden, com- 
plained to the council of " the strange ways of the people," 
and that " he was met rather as a foe than as a friend," it 
seems probable that Bach may occasionally have met with 
the same treatment. The greatest grievance was when the 
neighbouring towns were put forward as a model of musical 
productiveness, and worthy of imitation ; for a certain anta- 
gonism existed between Muhlhausen especially and Langula 
with the other villages of the jurisdiction an antagonism 
which, as I have been informed, has not altogether ceased at 
the present day. But, after all, these were not essential 
matters when the proceedings of a great artist were in ques- 
tion, and Bach on the other hand enjoyed the favour of a 
highly estimable council indeed private friendships were 


never lacking to him. 30 Certain occurrences however prove 
that all sorts of conflicts arose between him and the spiritual 
authority of the city, namely, the Superintendent and chief 
preacher of the church of St. Blasius ; and that in these 
disputes their different views as to church music played an 
essential, or perhaps the most important part. If Bach 
found himself fettered and hindered in his aspirations by his 
immediate ecclesiastical superiors, it is easy to understand 
how his position might soon have become thoroughly painful 
to him. 

It was at this period that the religious struggles between 
Spener's pietism and the old Lutheran orthodoxy were 
raging everywhere, and were carried on by the Lutherans 
with increasing vehemence as, year by year, pietism gained 
a broader foothold among the German people. In Arnstadt 
it is true it had only struck temporary root, as has been 
already said, and after the death of Drese it had not been 
able to stand against the hostility of the two Olearius, father 
and son ; but it was different in Muhlhausen. J. A. Frohne, 
Diaconus, or Dean, of Muhlhausen from 1684, and who suc- 
ceeded his father as Superintendent in 1691, had for many 
years, under the influence of Spener, worked eagerly and 
without any opposition to rouse a deeply Christian frame of 
mind and course of life in himself and others. Spener's 
Pia Desideria (1675), which gave the impetus to the whole 
religious movement, at first had met with no contradiction, 
but had even found full acceptance on the part of many 
judicious theologians ; it was not till the theory was carried 

80 Thus when Friedemann Bach (born November 22, 1710) was baptised, the 
godparents were : " Frau Anna Dorothea Hagedorn, wife of Herr Gottfried 
Hagedorn, J.[uris] U .[tritisque] Candidate in Miihlhaussen," and " Herr 
Friedemann Meckbach, J. U. doctor in Miihlhaussen " (Parish-register of 
Weimar). Herr Krug, of Naumburg, possesses an interesting relic in what has 
been the fly-leaf of a bound book out of Bach's private library ; to the right, 
in his own elegant handwriting, are the words, "ex libera donations Dn. 
Oehmii \ me possidet jfoh. Seb. Bach" The Oehme family, in many branches, 
formerly resided at Muhlhausen, and still exist there. This leaf, with the rest 
of the book, was in the possession of Herr Koberstein, the historian of literature 
at Schulpforte; the fly-leaf he gave away, the book was sold by auction at his 
death, with his other books, and it has not been possible to ascertain even 
what its contents were. 


out vigorously in practice, and the rigidly orthodox were 
unpleasantly disturbed in their self-satisfied peace and 
unfruitful conceit, that the opposition was begun, with a 
combination of small intelligence and great hatred. 

This was exactly what occurred in Miihlhausen. In 
the year 1699 there came from Heldrungen, where he had 
been superintendent, G. Chr. Eilmar, to be A rchidiaconus and 
pastor of the church of the Blessed Virgin; he, though 
thirteen years younger than Frohne, was thoroughly inimical 
to the eager and active spirit of pietism, and was in a desperate 
hurry to prove himself so. In a sermon preached by him, as 
a stranger, on Sexagesima Sunday, he had taken up so 
offensive an attitude towards Frohne, whose views he must 
have known, even finding himself supported on certain 
points by the municipal authorities, that Frohne thought 
he ought not to look on quietly at such an agitation and 
disturbance of men's minds. Eilmar's reproofs had chiefly 
borne upon the relation of the pietists to the Bible : that it was 
heretical to pray for special enlightenment when reading the 
Scriptures, since the Holy Ghost dwelt in the very words of 
the Bible ; that there was no distinction to be made between 
the outward and the inward word ; that the pietists held the 
word of God to be a dead letter ; that those contemners of 
the Church and the Bible held that they could be justified 
by the mediation of the ministry alone, without personal 
conversion and edification. And this certainly was the stand- 
point of orthodoxy to which they had been driven to sub- 
scribe, by the struggle. The first principle of Lutheranism 
was already lost to them ; the Church was to them almost 
as to the Catholics, something perfect and divine, whose 
means of grace her children need only receive passively, 
and whose ministers considered themselves as the bearers 
of a divine official gift which was perfectly independent of 
their moral conduct ; while pietism, on the contrary, strove to 
develop afresh the fundamental idea of Protestantism. When 
Frohne came forward to support his views against Eilmar he 
could declare with justice that he stood firm on an orthodox 
basis, and in his pamphlet of August 12, 1700, could show 
reason for repudiating the " false imputation spread abroad 


against him, that he was lapsing from evangelical orthodoxy 
and was given up to Chiliasm and all sorts of innovations." 
For there was nothing to be found in them, any more than 
in Spener's Pia Desideria, which might not be logically 
deduced from the fundamental principles of the Protestant 
Church, and in his official capacity he would certainly never 
have favoured any separatist extravagances. 

The contention which broke out in flames immediately 
after Eilmar's sermon, and which seems to have caught the 
other ecclesiastics of the city, soon, however, came to an 
end for a time, for on May 23 of the same year the council 
promulgated a very moderate order to the effect that all 
ministers were to refrain from controversy in their public 
discourses ; and if any one of them noted anything " sus- 
picious " in a colleague, he was to notify it in writing to the 
consistory, " to the end that such errors might meet with 
friendly and brotherly correction, and that all other anxious 
and vexatious proceedings and disorders might be avoided." 
Most estimable and moderate views, no doubt ; and indeed 
the council throughout this period constantly showed its tact 
and moderation. But a few years later the squabble broke 
out again, in speech and on paper. Who began it cannot 
be decided each party declared itself to have been first 
attacked ; but, though there may have been faults on both 
sides, they certainly were not equally divided, and the in- 
formation derived from the tolerably abundant materials 
before us is such that the unprejudiced reader cannot doubt 
to which side his sympathies must lean. 

Eilmar stands forth as a worthy partisan of the collective 
orthodoxy opposed to Spener: hard, bigoted, and sunk in 
rigid and lifeless formalism. Nowhere can we find a trace 
of warm religious sentiment ; nothing but an unrefreshing 
and lifeless doctrine, pedantry, scholastic logic, litigious ver- 
bosity, and conspicuous coarseness. 

Frohne was a man of lively religious feeling, and of great 
moral courage and severity as regarded both himself and 
others. This made him obnoxious and hateful to a large 
number of the citizens, who of course sided with Eilmar, 
and who had influence enough after Frohne's death to 


procure him his place. Under any circumstances it rouses 
us to esteem when we see a man of honest convictions, 
independently arrived at, contending against the tendencies 
of his time, and exposed to every sort of insult in return for 
his conscientiousness ; and to this esteem is added sincere 
pleasure when in the contest he displays mildness and mode- 
ration. This was the case with Frohne who was by this 
time old, feeble, and becoming blind in his written remon- 
strances to the council, and he had the satisfaction of seeing 
them take his side very decidedly. Though they twice or 
thrice admonished him, this only proves their impartiality ; 
otherwise they entirely disapproved of Eilmar's movement. 

The quarrel was ultimately made up by the decision of 
the disinterested Faculties. Frohne expressly declared him- 
self willing to be pacified in any case if only Eilmar were 
persuaded to the same. This judgment was pronounced in 
the council, May 8, 1708, and communicated to the two 
ministers on the following day ; but no report has been pre- 
served as to how it fell out. Frohne died November 12, 
1713, aged 61 ; Eilmar died two years later. 81 

Who that has ever endeavoured to reproduce in his own 
mind some image of the personal characteristics of the 
master from his works would not immediately have supposed 
that in these lamentable dissensions Bach would have stood 
by the Superintendent and chief preacher in word and in 
feeling ? And yet the very reverse was the case. In the 
entry on the parish register of the birth of his first child, 
which took place in the same year at Weimar, we read first 
and foremost among the sponsors, " Herr Doctor Georg 
Christian Eilmar, Pastor primarius in the church of the 
Blessed Virgin, and Consistorii Assessor at Miihlhausen." 

A careful consideration of the godfathers and godmothers 
chosen by Bach for his children is of no small importance, 
because each reveals certain relations, at any rate for the 
time, to different persons. The principle of selecting near 

81 Altenburg, Beschreibung der Stadt Miihlhausen (Description of the City ci 
Miihlhausen) ; and a quatrain in his honour was written by Joh. Gottfried 
Krause, Poetische Blumen (Langensaltza, 1716, p. 117.) 


relations or friends, or persons otherwise trustworthy, has 
of course always been the same ; moreover, in the circle of 
society to which Bach belonged such events were and are 
still celebrated with special solemnity, and this was the 
case in direct proportion as the mode of life was patriarchal 
in its character. That he should, therefore, have regarded 
the office of first sponsor to his eldest-born child as one of 
distinguished honour is quite intelligible, and Eilmar figures 
here by the side of the musician's nearest relatives. As 
Bach was at this time Court Organist at Weimar, and in no 
official position as regards Miihlhausen, this step must have 
resulted from a quite independent decision, and must be con- 
sidered as an expression of sincere and hearty conviction. 
Indeed, it is beyond dispute that Bach was an adherent and 
admirer of Eilmar, and consequently, as things stood, more 
or less inimical to Frohne. How this could be we cannot 
but ask with surprise, for is not Bach's leaning towards 
pietism supposed to be an ascertained fact ? It is in fact sup- 
posed to be established from certain internal coincidences of 
evidence. But it never seems to have been duly considered 
whether the pietistic views of art and life must not from 
the very outset have counteracted any such bias in his mind. 
All art, as art, asserting itself for its own sake, in the mind 
of the pietist fell under the designation of "the world" to 
which, as they deemed, every true Christian must find him- 
self in primitive, direct antagonism ; they declared with 
more or less unreserve that the artistic pleasures, which 
orthodoxy regarded as indifferent (adta^opa) , and in themselves 
neither good nor evil, but capable of becoming either one or 
the other according to circumstances, could not be reconciled 
with a way of life of which every instant should be answered 
for before God, and that they were therefore to be avoided 
as tending to seduce and destroy the soul. It was only in 
so far as art devoted herself unselfishly, so to speak, to the 
service of religion, and contributed to individual edification 
and awakening, that it could escape condemnation. With 
regard to music, therefore, in pietist circles, nothing was 
encouraged but "spiritual songs" of the narrowest type, 
which followed the verse as closely and simply as possible, 


and at the same time were utterly opposed to all sentiment. 
Every attempt tending to extend the forms of church music 
as an art, and to combine them into a more massive whole, 
or to introduce entirely new forms borrowed from the 
denounced music of operas, must have appeared, from the 
pietist point of view, absolutely reprobate. For all that in 
the best instances might be detected in these as an edifying 
and elevating power was, as they could not fail to see, by no 
means that contemplative " drawing near " to God which 
they sought for, and thought could only be found by abnega- 
tion of the " world " ; it had only grown up as the embodi- 
ment and idealisation of historical development. Now Bach 
saw, as he himself admits, that it was part of his life-task 
to raise sacred music to a new and higher aim, by fusing 
all that had been hitherto produced ; and it was precisely in 
Muhlhausen that he first began to work energetically and 
with eager inspiration to that end. Since Frohne, according 
to his convictions, could only endure such an advance to a 
very moderate degree, he could not but endeavour to sup- 
press the luxuriant productive power of the great musician, 
and probably never guessed that in so doing he was choking 
his very life-currents. Here was an antagonism in principles 
enough of itself to send Bach over from the camp of a noble 
minister of the church to the side of his opponent. It would 
also seem that Eilmar had musical tastes, and was in favour 
of the development of church music on new lines. 82 

But we must go still farther, and assert that Bach had 
never been of Frohne's party, and had not been forced to 
attach himself to Eilmar by flying for his life in the sense 
of his art. The close connection which he soon established 
between Eilmar and his own family requires us to assume 
that they had some feelings and opinions in common ; and 

82 Mattheson (Der Musikalische Patriot, 1728, p. 151) mentions a book by 
Eilmar, published at Brunswick in 1701, The Golden Jewel of the Evangelical 
Churches (Giildenes Kleinod Evangelischer Kirchen), in which the writer 
is zealous against the pietists. His defence of the modern church music proved 
of great service, and he therefore gives a few sentences out of it : this would 
not have happened amid the mass of writings to which this gave rise unless he 
bad been sure of Eilmar's concurrence. 


I need hardly here remind the reader that in the doctrine of 
regeneration by baptism the views of the pietists and of the 
orthodox were distinctly opposed. The religious traditions 
of the Bach family a simple but deep and living Pro- 
testantism, which had been strengthened and rooted by a 
long course of labours in the service of the Church had of 
course been implanted unaltered in the soul of Sebastian as 
a child. His education under the eye of his elder brother 
and in the highly orthodox lyceum (or college) of Ohrdruf 
was not calculated to modify his views. In Arnstadt, in the 
same way, the atmosphere was wholly unfavourable to 
pietism ; and as the zealots suspected it of being a complete 
revolution against the pure doctrine that had come down to 
them from their fathers, Bach must have been strongly 
opposed to it. He undoubtedly can never have tested its 
principles, for he can hardly have experienced any religious 
need which could not be amply satisfied by the creed of his 
fathers. Everything beyond that he found in art and in his 
own artist's calling. Beyond question he sometimes expressed 
himself in these in a way which closely touched on certain 
aspects of pietism ; the mysticism in which he shrouds 
himself in the texts of his works, particularly in Bible texts, 
is closely allied to the fervid devotion with which the pietist 
read the sacred Scriptures. That transcendental vein which 
made him so ready to dwell on the annihilation of this 
mortal existence through death and on the joys of heavenly 
bliss, corresponds very nearly to the attitude taken up by 
Spener's followers, of " looking for the glorious reign of 
Christ." Nay, and their craving at any rate at times to 
enjoy a perfect and immediate communion with God, and to 
feel in themselves the ecstatic consciousness of the infinity 
of the Divine spirit, has its counterpart in Bach's instru- 
mental music. 

It is the proper function of this form of art to give an 
idealised image of only the most comprehensive and general 
facts of all human experience ; and of all forms of tone- 
utterance the organ is the least amenable to the stamp 
of the artist's individuality. A composition of this kind 
is in truth the symbol of that sempiternal harmony 


whose mighty waves flow from and to God Himself; to 
bring this near to and into the human soul without the 
intrusion of any incidentally associated idea, to grasp it 
with subjective fervour, and to glow with its inward fire, is 
the beginning of an impulse similar to that with which 
the pious soul on fire with devotion seeks to apprehend 
the unapproachable and incomprehensible divinity of God 
without the intervention of the Church. How fully Bach 
attained this is proved by his freely conceived fugues for 
the organ, which even to this day must appear to 
every one permeated by devout fervour and a wonderful 
vitality in spite of their severity, like rocks flooded with a 
sunset glow. But all these were not the outcome of pietist 
religious views ; they were only the revelation of an analo- 
gous tendency, a growth from the same root of German 
vital feeling, but in the domain of art. And indeed we find 
side by side with the marks of identity the widest dif- 
ferences; the firmest suppression of subjective demonstra- 
tiveness under the severest conceivable forms, a wholesome 
worldliness in recognising and utilising all that was around 
him and before him, and in his vigorous enjoyment of his 
own existence a characteristic inherited from his fore- 
fathers. If all that pietism held of beauty, goodness and 
truth was most purely embodied even at that time perhaps 
in Bach's music, this could only be because its creator was 
no pietist. Not indeed that this could have been the case 
if he had been sternly opposed to pietism ; but this in fact 
can never have been the case. His religious standpoint was 
above all contentions, something more catholic and sublime, 
as became so catholic a genius ; and though the tradition of 
his family and the love of his art kept him in the ranks of 
the orthodox, nothing could be more false than to regard 
him as a fanatical partisan. Might we not ask indeed 
whether music so full of vitality and purpose as his ever 
could submit to an union with the dead and empty semblance 
of Christianity of Eilmar and his associates ? 

The pietist mode of expression in Bach's cantatas and 
in the text of the Passion music is often interpreted as 
though the composer had here felt himself in the element he 


loved. But this language, now for the first time appealing 
with warmth to the heart, had taken general possession of 
every one who bore in his soul a spark of poetry, and it would 
be very delightful if all the verse composed to by Bach had 
been pitched in that tone; we could take into the bargain 
much redundancy and want of taste, particularly as they 
would be almost lost in the flood of music or eliminated 
without much trouble. In point of fact, among the writers 
of Bach's texts, so far as they have hitherto been identified, 
there was not one pietist ; nor indeed could there have been, 
since to them all the new church cantatas were a sinful 
abomination ; on the contrary, the real originator of this 
form, so far as it took the aspect of verse, was one of the 
most zealous champions of orthodoxy. A good authority 
in most things highly competent to judge has attempted to 
show that Bach had a share in Freylinghausen's hymn- 
book, both as an original composer and as improving the 
contributions of others. 88 

Johann Anastasius Freylinghausen, son-in-law and as- 
sistant minister to August Hermann Francke (and after 
Francke's death pastor himself of St. Ulrich's Church, and 
director of the orphanage founded by Francke at Halle), pub- 
lished, in the year 1704, a "Spiritual Song-book," containing 
" the substance of old and new hymns, as also the notes of 
the unfamiliar melodies." Since the end of the sixteenth cen- 
tury, Halle, by the instrumentality of men like Francke and 
Breithaupt, had become a great centre of pietism, and 
this book, published "for the arousing of sacred devotion, 
and for edification in the faith and in a godly mind," was 
the full utterance of that religious view. It found a won- 
derfully wide distribution ; edition followed edition, and in 
1714, in spite of the virulent attacks of the hostile party, a 
second part appeared as the " New Spiritual Song-book," 
which also met with the greatest favour ; in 1741, two years 
after Freylinghausen's death, this was combined with the 
first part by Francke's son, forming a collection of above 
1,600 hymns, with more than 600 melodies. 

Winterfeld, Vol. III., pp. 270-276. 


The statement that Bach took part in the musical portion 
of this hymn-book, which, from the master's pronounced 
attitude from the first towards pietism, we must regard as 
more than doubtful, rests on a certain "Musical Hymn-book" 
published for Georg Christian Schemelli, cantor of the castle 
at Zeitz, by Christoph Breitkopf, of Leipzig, in 1736 ; in this 
are sixty-nine tunes which, says the preface, were all either 
newly composed or partly improved in their thorough-bass by 
Sebastian Bach. An exact examination proves that forty of 
these melodies are to be found in earlier sources, and eighteen 
of them actually occur for the first time in Freylinghausen's 
hymn-book. 84 Bach's co-operation in this would thus be 
proved only on condition of proving his authorship of these 
eighteen tunes, or of some of them. But so far as regards 
the first edition, Freylinghausen's own words invalidate this 
attempt, since in the preface he says : " It has been thought 
unnecessary to add the melodies in notes to the old church 
hymns in general use ; but the new ones are all provided 
with tunes, partly taken from the Darmstadt hymn-book, and 
partly newly composed expressly for this work, by Christian 
and experienced musicians of this place." This preface 
is dated September 22, 1703, from Glaucha, a suburb of 
Halle. Bach was at that time eighteen years old, and 
Organist at Arnstadt; thus it is simply impossible that he 
should be included as " an experienced musician of this 
place," i.e. y Halle. Thus all the tunes which first appeared 
in the earliest edition are put out of the question, and these 
form no less than half of the remaining nine ; three occur in 
the fifth editon of 1710, which in its preface has the general 
remark repeated, that "all the melodies have been again 
diligently revised according to the rules of composition by 
experienced and Christian musicians, and improved in many 

One of these melodies (No. 436, " Seelenweide meine 
Freude,") ought then to serve as a chief piece of evidence. 
To this hymn, by Adam Drese, was subjoined in the first 

M Not nineteen ; Winterfeld has by accident counted No. 284 (in Schemelli 
No. 94 in Freylinghausen) twice over. 


two editions a tune in the Ionic metre (o o ), probably 

devised by the poet himself; but its dancelike character 
had been eliminated by the time it reached the third 
edition (1706) by a change into common time. The fifth 
edition gives us an entirely new tune, and as it was 
erroneously believed that Bach was still living in Arnstadt, 
together with Drese, and stood in some connection with him, 
the idea arose that he was the composer. This seemed 
to be further proved by the fact that the melody occurs in 
Schemelli's hymn-book almost unaltered, while comparison 
shows that Bach made abundant changes in melodies which 
can be proved not to be his, especially in the treatment ot 
the bass ; and this in his own composition he might not 
have thought necessary. But even this criterion turns out 
to be useless, for it was part of Bach's nature to supply new 
harmonies to his own melodies as well as to those of others, 
as often as they came under his hand ; among others, this is 
proved by the tunes of his own invention to " Dir, dir, 
Jehovah will ich singen " and " Gieb dich zufrieden und sei 
stille," both of which exist in two different and equally 
masterly settings ; and of melodies by other writers instances 
innumerable testify that his various modes of setting did 
not spring from an effort to improve what was defective, 
but generally from the urgent prompting of his creative 
fancy. Moreover, it must be added that the other two 
melodies which remain in Freylinghausen's fifth edition, and 
occur again in Schemelli's hymn-book, 85 are found in the 
latter with an entirely different bass and harmonies, and 
even with several altered passages in the melodies ; so that any 
conclusion we might seem to derive from the former melody 
is, by this alone, entirely lost to us again. 86 Finally, it must 

36 Nos. 592 and 614 in Freylinghausen, " Die Giildne Sonne " and " Der 
lieben Sonnen Licht." 

36 Winterfeld is in error in stating that these two last melodies already existed 
in the first edition of the hymn-book, for there the old tune by Ebeling is given 
to Gerhard's morning hymn, and Scriver's evening hymn has a melody which 
is new and quite different from the old one. The index given on p. 271 must 
be altered as follows: Nos. 108, 121, 463, 475, 522, 572, 580, 700, 779 in 
Schemelli, correspond to Nos. 363, 278, 349, 461, 659, 515, 405, 353, 412 in 


be said that even the style of Drese's hymn in Schemelli 
shows a few not important deviations. 

But even if all these objections are thought insufficient, the 
following is surely decisive. 87 It was the fifth edition which 
was to be distinguished from the first edition by the insertion 
of the melodies. It was not observed that the fifth is merely a 
word for word reissue of the fourth, which appeared in 1708. 
The utter impossibility of Bach having, in that particular 
year when he was ranged on the side of orthodoxy in a 
bitter struggle between an orthodox minister and a pietist 
taken any part in an undertaking so violently disputed over 
by the antagonists, must be evident to every one. Thus the 
whole fabric of conjecture falls to pieces at once. For the 
probability of his co-operation must be less in proportion as 
the number of the melodies dwindles in which it seems at 
all possible. Here one reason supports the other, and now 
for the last six tunes there is no evidence but on the very 
untrustworthy ground of resemblance in the harmonies, 
which indeed, as I have shown, is not even to any extent 
present. If at the beginning of the work Bach was opposed 
to it, and always remained aloof from its managers, how 
could it be possible that they should desire his assistance as 
it went forward ? And finally, if we reflect that this hymn- 
book of Schemelli's was publicly said to be a counterpart to 
that of Freylinghausen, and indeed a compromise between 
the two parties, since, in point of fact, hymns by the leaders 
of the pietists as well as of the orthodox party stand in it 
peaceably side by side one 88 even is by Freylinghausen 
himself it becomes intelligible how Bach got the credit 
of Freylinghausen's eighteen melodies, and also, how the 
musical rearrangement of this latter hymn-book might 

Freylinghausen's first edition, 1704. Schemelli's Nos. 13, 19, 710, answer to 
592, 614, 438, in Freylinghausen's fifth edition, 1710. The index to the first 
edition of the second part, 1714, is correct. 

87 Compare Winterfeld, p. 14. Not twenty-three, but only nineteen hymns 
have had new tunes set to them ; No. 662 is transposed from major to minor, 
and some others are set to a more convenient pitch. 

88 No. 496 ("Mein Herz, gieb dich zufrieden") signed). A. Fr. It is to be found 
in the second part as No. 450. In Schemelli's hymn-book, No. 798, August 
Hermann Francke's hymn (" Gottlob, ein Schritt zur Ewigkeit ") is introduced. 

2 B 


have been attributed to him, his absence of all partisanship 
in religion being well known. But that he never had the 
smallest direct part in Freylinghausen's collection of hymns 
may for the future be regarded as an incontestable fact. 

Some few months had elapsed since Bach had obtained 
permission from the council to repair the organ, and he had 
at once set to work with vigour. During this time it had 
become clear to him that he could not remain in Miihlhausen. 
A new sphere of action was opened to him sooner than he 
could have hoped ; the post of organist in his old and 
familiar home, Weimar, fell vacant, and as in any case it 
must have been his object to make himself more extensively 
known as a musician, he decided on introducing himself 
at the ducal court, and made the excursion serve another 
purpose as well. On June 5, Stauber, the minister, was 
to celebrate his second marriage, with Regina Wedemann, 
the aunt of Bach's wife. It occurred to Sebastian to grace 
the occasion for this worthy man who a year before had 
blest his own union, and who was now entering on a closer 
relationship with him by the production of a cantata. Since 
he gave in his resignation at Miihlhausen on June 25, he 
must have gone to Arnstadt first, and certainly took his wife 
with him ; she then either remained there with her friends, 
or else went with him to Dornheim, whence her husband 
fetched her again upon his return from Weimar. 

The cantata which is here to be discussed, is written to 
the words : " Der Herr denket an uns," &c. (" The Lord hath 
been mindful of us, and He will bless us" Ps. cxv. 12-15) 89 
and bears, in its manuscript form, no mark of its desti- 
nation ; nay, the conclusion that a cantata was written by 
Bach at all for that day is only arrived at by combining 
several very plain indications. That the work belongs to 
Bach's earliest period will be at once admitted by every 
one who has clearly learnt to appreciate certain differences 
of style ; as also the fact that it refers to some marriage 
festival. The idea that it is designed for an ordinary mar- 
riage is improbable from the words of the text : " The Lord 

E.G., XIII., i, pp. 73-94- 


increase you more and more, you and your children," and 
one cannot suppose it was meant for an anniversary festival 
where there was no religious ceremony. But everything 
well befits the second marriage of a widower surrounded with 
children, as Stauber was. And besides, the passage in the 
psalm applies directly to the house of Aaron, and so is 
sufficiently appropriate to account for its use in the cantata, 
and especially finds its exact application to a clergyman from 
the words, " Ye are the blessed of the Lord which made 
heaven and earth." The opportunity of composing a cantata 
for the second marriage of a preacher did not offer itself so 
often, at all events in the first years of Bach's "master" 
period, that the exactly fitting conditions in this case can 
be disregarded. The work is composed of two choruses, 
between which are inserted an air and a duet. The only 
instruments used are strings and organ, which begin with a 
symphony built upon the first subject of the opening chorus; 
this is gone through on the two violins in short sections, 
always joined together by two bars of a transitional character. 
In general two distinct modes of treatment are noticeable in 
Bach's church symphonies or sonatas. The chief charac- 
teristic of the one (which is the older) is, that above the 
progressions of the harmonies, which sometimes consist of 
broad chords, sometimes of soft suspensions, two upper parts 
are written in expressive and cantabile imitations. The later 
form is closely connected with the construction of an instru- 
mental "concerto," and is an ingenious transportation from 
the province of secular music ; while the earlier method, in 
which Bach continued the structure begun by his prede- 
cessors, takes its rise entirely from religious music. We 
may regard his achievements in this particular direction 
as the perfect climax of the Gabrieli sonata-form ; the har- 
monic masses indeed are still disguised from view, but the 
vast skeleton is adorned with the blossoms and tendrils of 
the newer instrumental polyphony. The symphony of the 
cantata under notice belongs to this older class, although 
the tenors and cellos have a more prominent share in the 
counterpoint than has fallen to them in other cases; the 

part-writing is excellent and flowing. 

2 B 2 


The four vocal pieces are full of that tender and feeling 
expression which is common to the older cantatas, and 
may here be accounted for by the purpose of the composi- 
tion. Both choruses are fugal ; the first begins with a 
section in free imitation, where the interweaving of the 
voices is twice interrupted by the instruments tutti ; even 
from this touch, taken in connection with other similar 
passages and the interludes in the last chorus, one can 
infer the early origin of this work. The fugue, in which 
the theme is answered with a freedom which Bach never 
afterwards permitted himself to use, corresponds closely, in 
the interweaving of the instruments, to the last movement 
of the " Rathswechsel " cantata ; at the end the section 
with which the number began comes in again like a refrain. 
The aria is of a compact da capo form and of less import- 
ance, the words of the text being too few to serve for a 
more extended piece. Much warmer and more captivating is 
the duet for tenor and bass: " Der Herr segne euch," &c., a 
piece full of genuine evangelic benignity ; such Bach never 
again wrote. A soft, broadly flowing melody, which carries 
as it were in itself the imitation of a second voice, runs, some- 
times instrumentally, sometimes vocally, almost through the 
whole duet; and though the regular alternations between 
the two tone mediums give it an antiquated stamp, they are 
interwoven so dexterously and with such genius that Bach's 
later manner is plainly foreshadowed in them. The close is 
surprisingly beautiful, where, after an apparently final refrain, 
the voices give one more last benediction, while the violins 
descend in arpeggio passages through four octaves on the 
chord of C major. The final chorus, which begins with a 
homophonous passage, over which there is a brilliant instru- 
mental figure, changes after sixteen bars to a double fugue 
(on "Amen"), full of freshness and vigour, the effect of 
which is indeed somewhat injured perhaps by a few passages 
conceived too instrumentally; it is also wanting in breadth 
and continuity, since in its development the work is divided 
into too short sections between the voices and the instru- 
ments used alternately, and the voices and instruments used 
together. This was a part of his inheritance from his pre- 


decessors, which Bach only appropriated as his own in the 
course of time, though even now it had begun to yield him 
good interest. There is a very splendid and bold passage 
where (in the fifty-fourth bar) both the violins attack the 
chief theme on c'" 9 while all the other instruments have 
a rushing accompaniment of confused semiquavers and 
quavers ; it has all the glitter of a knightly hero on a 
prancing charger. But the gently dying close leads back 
beautifully into the fundamental idea of the whole. Com- 
pared with the " Rathswechsel " cantata, this one has less 
richness, but a greater unity, and it is a precious production 
of true religious feeling. And as it was free from the diffi- 
culties of most of Bach's works, it was soon taken into 
favour by the art world, like its slightly younger brother, 
the beautiful and earnest Actus tragicus. 

The appointment to Weimar was an auspicious circum- 
stance, and Bach, thankful and overjoyed at this unlooked- 
for and happy change, hastened to break off his connection 
with Miihlhausen. The only thing which troubled him was 
the parting from the council, who had always been well- 
disposed towards him, and to whom he felt grateful. This is 
plainly seen in his very polite demand for dismissal : 

Magnifies, High and very Noble, High and very 
Learned, High and Respected Gentlemen. * 

Most Gracious Patroni and Gentlemen, 

This is to represent to your Magnificent, and to my highly esteemed 
Patrons who of your grace bestowed on me, your humble servant, the 
office, vacant a year since, of Organist to the church of St. Blasius, and of 
your favour granted me to enjoy a better subsistence, that at all times I 
desire to recognise your favours with obedient gratitude. But although 
I have always kept one end in view, namely, with all good will to con- 
duct well-ordered church music to the honour of God and in agreement 
with your desires, and otherwise to assist, so far as was possible to my 
humble ability, the church music which has grown up in almost all the 
parishes round, and which is often better than the harmony produced 
here, and to that end have obtained from far and wide, and not without 

40 This is an approximate rendering of the titles attributed to the patrons, 
each in his degree, of the office held by Bach : ist, the burgomaster, who 
was president of the church committee ; 2nd, the town-councillors ; 3rd, the 
literates ; 4th, the citizens. In the original all the words in italics are of 
foreign derivation. 


expense a good apparatus [collection] of the choicest church pieces, 
and no less have, as is my duty, laid before you the project [estimate] 
of the defects necessary to be remedied in the organ, and at all 
times and places have with pleasure fulfilled the duties of my office. 
Still this has not been done without difficulty, and at this time there is 
not the slightest appearance that things will be altered, 41 although in the 
future at this church, even I have humbly to represent that, modest as is 
my way of life, with the payment of house-rent and other indispensable 
articles of consumption, 42 I can with difficulty live. 

Now God has so ordered it that a change has unexpectedly been put 
into my hands, in which I foresee the attainment of a more sufficic-nt 
subsistence and the pursuit of my aims as regards the due ordering of 
church music without vexation from others, since his Royal and Serene 
Highness of Saxe-Weirnar has graciously offered me the entree to his 
Court Capelle and chamber music. 

In consequence of this privilege I hereby, with obedience and respect, 
represent it to my most gracious patrons, and at the same time would 
ask them to take my small services to the church up to this time into 
favourable consideration, and to grant me the benefit of providing me 
with a good dimission [testimonial] . If I can in any way farther con- 
tribute to the service of your church I will prove myself better in deed 
than in word, so long as life shall endure. 

Most honourable gentlemen, 

Most gracious Patrons and gentlemen, 

Your most humble servant, 


Miihlhausen, June 25, anno 1708. 

[Addressed :] 

To all and each respectively of the very high and highly esteemed 
gentlemen, the ministers of the church of St. Blasius, The memorial of 
their humble servant. 

Unwillingly, but with liberality, the council on the follow- 
ing day granted the dismissal, with the proviso, however, 
that Bach should promise to give his further assistance in 
the completion of the repairs of the organ. Since the new 
"Brustpositiv," as the document quoted above tells us, was 
not ready till 1709, Bach must during this time have come 
over from Weimar once at least, but probably oftener. 
Moreover, the town of Miihlhausen was remembered with 

41 Bach's salary was higher than his predecessor's. 

42 Able had had a house of his own. Generally rent was paid as part of the 
salary. Bieler had twelve thalers a year on that account, besides many other 
small revenues in money and in kind. 


pleasure by him all his life long ; and even after a period of 
more than twenty-five years he was induced by the " former 
favours of the council," to make an application on behalf of 
his son Bernhard, for the post of Organist to the Marien- 
kirche. In the post he had given up he was succeeded, as 
has been said, by his cousin Johann Friedrich Bach. 



AMONG the petty rulers of central Germany, as it existed 
at that time men who for the most part belied their 
nationality as much as possible, who had an eye to their own 
advantage only, and had no conception of the duties of a 
sovereign Duke Wilhelm Ernst of Saxe- Weimar stands forth 
as an independent, conscientious individuality of great depth 
of character. He had already reigned from the year 1683, 
and when Bach was called to Weimar by him he was in his 
forty-sixth year. Separated from his wife after a short and 
unhappy union, he lived childless and in retirement at 
Wilhelmsburg, the ducal residence of Weimar. His court 
was held with much simplicity, his tastes being opposed to 
all noisy and splendid pleasures ; by nine o'clock in the 
evening in the summer, and by eight in winter, all was silent 
in the castle. The less time and money he needed for his 
personal expenditure the more freely he could give himself 
up to the concerns of his little territory, and he was especially 
occupied with his care for the affairs of the church and of 
education. The character of Wilhelm Ernst was eminently 
that of a religious churchman. Even as a boy he had 
strongly manifested this feature, for in his eighth year, 
under the direction of the court preacher, he had preached 
a regular sermon before his parents and a select gathering, 
on the text Acts xvi. 33, " with great address and with 
extraordinary boldness and much grace" as we are told. 
His reign of forty-five years is full, from beginning to end, 
of a series of admirable projects and enactments of this 
character, which to this day have kept his memory green. 


In 1713 he had the old ruined church of Saint James rebuilt; 
in 1712 he transformed the old city school into the gymnasium 
or college which still exists, and provided it with a new 
building and benevolent endowments for the maintenance of 
poor scholars ; and again, two years before his death, he 
founded a seminary for preachers and teachers ; on October 30, 
1717, the two hundredth Jubilee-festival of the Reformation, 
on which day he also kept his birthday, he invested a 
sum of which the interest was to accrue yearly to the 
ministers, teachers, scholars, and poor ; and to commemorate 
it he had a medal struck bearing on the obverse his own 
head a sharply-cut and meagre face, with a retreating 
forehead, a large prominent nose, and a somewhat projecting 
chin. He reintroduced the custom of confirming young 
persons, which for more than a century and a half had fallen 
into desuetude, and urged on the clergy the teaching of the 
catechism. He extended the education of the lower classes 
with vigorous and noble zeal or rather their training in 
Christian doctrines, which at that time was the same thing 
and often travelled from place to place in his dominions to 
judge for himself of the condition of the churches and schools. 
At the same time a religious bent was conspicuous in his 
own life. " All in God " was his favourite motto. He performed 
his devotions daily, and required his suite to do the same ; 
when he proposed receiving the sacrament he secluded him- 
self entirely for some days previously, and limited the pro- 
ceedings of his council to that which was strictly necessary; 
and among his court officials he settled from the very begin- 
ning of his reign the exact order in which they should com- 
municate by turns. He insisted on their piety and good 
moral character, but was in other respects known as a kind 
and considerate master, particularly to old and tried servants. 
His favourite society were the clergy, whom he liked to see 
about him in full canonical dress. To meet the requirements 
of the town, containing at that time above five thousand in- 
habitants, he increased the number of the regularly appointed 
ministers to seven at the least, and in the year 1710 he 
summoned them all at once from the whole country above 
a hundred to a synod at Weimar, where he himself assisted 


at the proceedings from beginning to end. It was natural 
that he should be interested by all the discussions on church 
matters to which pietism as it spread and grew had given 
rise, but his own convictions were always ranged on the side 
of the " old church party." 43 For the church of Saint James 
so runs the decree he stipulated for a preacher who 
must have studied at some university " above suspicion " (of 
unorthodoxy) a remark directed against Halle ; in 1715 he 
prohibited private meeting for religious purposes as in- 
volving abuses; three years later he required of all preachers 
their universal assent to the dogmatic proposition that the 
gifts of even unconverted ministers were saving and effectual 
by virtue of their office. He caused all the more serious points 
of difference to be narrowly investigated by the learned men 
of Jena, and then announced in a full and particular rescript 
how he would have them decided. 

It is pretty clear, however, from all we know of him, that 
Wilhelm Ernst's interest was by no means directed solely 
to church establishment and the maintenance of "pure" 
doctrine, but that a deep vein of living piety ran through his 
nature. For this reason zealot orthodoxy was repugnant to 
him ; he sternly repressed all controversy in the pulpit, and 
required that any prevalent religious error should be refuted 
" humbly and by the light of reason." 

Next to this he was well disposed to science and art, and 
in this he distinguished himself above most of his contem- 
poraries and peers, for he did not merely protect these 
faculties out of ostentation and for effect, but studied in 
them himself with honest perseverance. He was in his time 
a student for three years in Jena, and his very interest 
in theological matters kept him constantly connected with 
science. Besides bestowing much care on the archives of 
the duchy, he laid the foundations of the grand-ducal library, 
now so extensive, by many valuable and important purchases, 
and, with his usual businesslike exactitude, placed it in the 

43 His younger brother, Johann Ernst, had, in 1691, made an ineffectual 
attempt to get Hermann Francke as his court preacher and tutor to his eldest son 
(see Francke's diary in Kramer, Beitrage zurGeschichte. A. H. Franckes, 1861). 


charge of a special librarian. He also possessed a con- 
siderable collection of coins, and was always endeavouring 
to add to it. In spite of his serious character he was 
induced in 1696 to allow the erection of an opera-house, and 
for a time he even had a " court comedian " (" Hof- 
comodiant") in the person of Gabriel Moller, which, of 
course, implies that a permanent troupe of actors enjoyed 
the privilege of performing at Weimar and the other towns 
in the duchy. In 1709, however, this privilege no longer 
existed. 44 The friendly relations which subsisted between 
the pleasure-loving court of Weissenfels and that of Weimar 
was not without its influence over amusements of this kind. 
In 1698 Wilhelm Ernst held here a four days' carnival, with 
a great suite ; and even during the last decade of their lives 
the cousins were faithful and eager fellow-huntsmen. The 
court " capelle," or band, was not inconsiderable for that 
period, and even by the year 1702 included some conspicuous 
musicians. A sketch of the Duke's life, written in 1735, 
narrates ingenuously: "Sixteen well-trained musicians, 
dressed in the habit of heyducs, at times delighted his ear." 
As these were, of course, the best of his band, the conclusion 
is forced upon us that Bach himself must from time to time 
have presented himself in "the habit of a heyduc " a 
comical figure enough. Meanwhile, the taste for chamber 
music was greater in his younger brother, Johann Ernst, in 
whose service Bach remained for a few months in 1703 ; and 
after his death in 1707 it showed itself in his son (by his 
second marriage), Prince Johann Ernst, of whom we shall 
hear again presently. Duke Wilhelm's natural proclivities 
turned his mind chiefly to church music. 45 

It is clear at a glance that no more favourable spot could 
have been imagined for Bach and his great aims. Every 
germ of art, however fertile the soil in which it grows, 

44 On May 14, 1709, Duke Christian of Saxe- Weissenfels commends, to 
Duke Moritz of Saxe-Zeitz, Gabriel Moller, erewhile employed as court 
comedian at Weimar (Comp. Fiirstenau). 

45 The best source of information for the life of Wilhelm Ernst is the 
sketch given by J. David Kohler's Historischer Miinz-Belustigung, Part II. 
(Niirnberg, 1730). Gottschalg also gives a large space to this ruler. Some 


demands light and air for its full development, and these 
elements were extremely difficult to find at that time for true 
sacred music, particularly at courts, which nevertheless were 
best able to afford the means by which art might thrive. 
Any real interest in religion hardly displayed itself excepting 
in the form of pietism, which was inimical to art ; for the 
rest, and for the most part, religious indifference hid behind 
ecclesiastical formalism, and was best pleased when the 
church music in common use included a compromise with 
operatic music, with a leaning, if possible, on that side, 
since this was now the focus of general musical interest. 
But it was quite otherwise at the court of Wilhelm Ernst. 
The Duke had the deepest conviction that the religion of 
the Protestant Church was the first of human blessings, but 
that it did not exclude the other aspects of life in all its 
manifestations and relations, but merely concentrated them 
and raised them to a purer ideal. Artistic efforts within the 
jurisdiction of the Church must therefore have seemed to 
him something exceptionally praiseworthy and deserving of 
promotion, particularly when he observed what a gifted man 
this was who applied the greater portion of his splendid 
powers to this problem. On his views were moulded those of 
most of the men who surrounded him, and Bach could at once 
be convinced that his music would meet with sympathetic 
appreciation, if only because it was church music. He was 
supported by the favour of a majority, in whose estimation all 
that was connected with the Church held the highest place. 
The appreciation and sympathy of our fellow-men is as indis- 
pensable as the breath of life to some even of the strongest 
minds, and to the rest it is at any rate warming and invigo- 
rating as the sunshine. The court of Weimar stands forth 
among those of the princes of that period as Bach himself 
does among composers for the Church ; they seem made for 
each other. 

The new post was twofold, combining those of court 

details I derived from the archives at Weimar; and quite lately an interesting 
study by Beaulieu Marconnay: Ernst August, Herzog von Sachen-Weimar- 
Eisenach (Leipzig, 1872), confirms the view here given of Wilhelm Ernst's 
estimable character. 


Organist and Kammermusicus. For this Bach received for the 
first three years a salary of 156 gulden 15 groschen, which 
was punctually paid, since the financial administration was 
very exact. 46 At Midsummer, 1711, he was advanced to 
210 gulden 12 groschen; at Easter, 1713, to 225 gulden, and 
from 1714 still further an unmistakable sign of how well 
they knew his value. 47 The church of the castle dated from 
the year 1630, and had later acquired the name of " Weg zur 
Himmelsburg" "The Way to the City of Heaven," the 
Duke had had five new bells cast for it in the year 1712, in 
order to adorn it still more. How often Bach had to do duty 
in it cannot be exactly said, since so many extra services 
were held there. The organ was rather small, but had a 
strong, full-toned pedal, in which it surpassed that of the 
town church, while that was superior to it in the number of 
manuals. It will be interesting to see the specification: 


4 ft. 
4 ft. 

4 ft.(?) 

4 ft." 

46 If he thought it needful the duke assisted his court-officer with advances. 
Vide ]. D. Kohler, p. 23. 

47 The collected private accounts in the archives of the Grand Duchy, which 
give information respecting Bach's salary, are only to be found from Michaelmas, 
1710, onwards. Here the following entries occur: 150 gulden of salary and 
6 gulden 15 groschen for "3 cords of driftwood"; besides this, 12 groschen 
11 for coals for the court-organist in the winter." The remaining entries, up to 
the end of 1713, show a considerable increase. 

48 Wette, who communicates this specification (pp. 175, 176), celebrates the 

Upper Manual. 

Lower Manual. 

i. Principal 8 ft. 

i. Principal 

2. Quintaton ... ... 16 ft. 

2. Viol-di-gamba 

3. Gemshorn ... ... 8 ft. 

3. Gedact 

4. Gedackt 8 ft. 

4. Trumpet 

5. Quintaton 4 ft. 

5. Small Gedackt 

6. Octave 4 ft. 

6. Octave 

7. Mixture ... ... 6 ft. 

7. Waldflote 

8. Cymbel 3 ft. 

8. Sesquialtera 

g. Glockenspiel, or carillon. 

Pedal Organ. 

i. Great " Untersatz " 

4. Violin-Bass 

(support) ... ... 32 ft. 

5. Principal Bass 

2. Sub,-Bass 16 ft. 

6. Trumpet- Bass 

3. Posaune (Bass Trom- 

7. Cornett-Bass 

bone) 16 ft. 


In the musical capelle (band) Bach was of use both as a 
pianoforte and violin-player, so that he was afterwards 
advanced to be concertmeister (leader of the band), which 
became his customary post, except at the performances in 
church, when he had his own place at the organ. A list 
of the ducal musicians employed between 1714 and 1716 
numbers twenty-two ; it is true that the singers are included 
in this ; but they were all more or less accustomed to play 
on some instrument as well, and indeed most of the players 
had knowledge of several instruments. There were always, 
moreover, some among them who held offices of entirely 
different kinds ; it was the custom, and they were used to it. 
The four voices of the chorus used to be doubled, and six 
choirboys added to its strength ; also the Stadtmusicus was 
at hand, who with his company could lend a support if 

Bach found a worthy colleague in art and profession in 
Johann Gottfried Walther, the organist of the town-church 
of SS. Peter and Paul. He was an " Erfurter " through his 
mother, whose maiden name was Lammerhirt, and so he 
was rather nearly related to Bach ; and besides he was 
connected with the family through his first teacher of music, 
Johann Bernhard Bach. Born on September 18, 1684, ne 
was nearly of an age with Sebastian, and once already an 
opportunity had been given to both of trying for the same 
prize, when the place of Georg Ahle in Miihlhausen was to 
be filled up. But Walther withdrew from the competition 
which had been urged upon him, and a few months after, 
on July 29, 1707, was summoned from Erfurt to the town- 
church of Weimar, where the town-organist, Heintze, had 
died shortly before. 49 He remained in this post until his 
death, March 23, 1748; he had nothing to do with the court 
band in Bach's time, since he was first called "Hofmusicus" 
in 1720 ; while in the year of his arrival he undertook the 

organ as " incomparable," which, if any weight is to be given to his judgment, 
must be referred to the quality of the stops. Its pitch was the so-called cornet- 
tone, i.e., a minor-third above the Kammerton or ordinary pitch. See App. 
A, 17. 
49 A. Wette, Hist. Nach., &c., von Weimar (Weimar, 1737), p. 261. 


clavier instruction of Prince Johann Ernst and his sister, 
Johanne Charlotte. 50 

Walther's name is commonly known in the history of art 
by his Musical Lexicon, which appeared in 1732 at Leipzig, 
and is the first German attempt to bring the whole mass 
of musical information into the dictionary form. The book 
is even now a source of information hardly to be dispensed 
with, principally owing to the fulness of the biographical 
notices, which have been collected together with great dili- 
gence, although it naturally contains many inaccuracies : 
the author, moreover, was always anxious to bring it to per- 
fection, and to publish a continuation, but he died in the 
meantime. 51 And yet this was only the fruit of this diligent 
man's leisure hours ; his chief occupation was practical 
music playing, teaching, and composition. He was 
peculiarly fitted for teaching by his precise, indefatigable, 
and persevering nature, combined with fundamental musical 
knowledge to such a degree that he could in this well stand 
his ground beside Bach at least as a teacher of composition. 

His style of playing judging from those of his composi- 
tions which are preserved must have been broad and solid. 
Of these a few small examples were engraved on copper in 
his lifetime, 52 but a large number of them have been handed 
down to us in autograph compositions exclusively for the 
organ or clavier ; as to his church compositions, concerning 
which he himself informs us, I, at least, have never seen 
them. Five fugues (in A major, C major, D minor, C major, 
and F major) are respectable, viewed as the further deve- 
loped works of his Thuringian predecessors ; and still more 
so the preludes, in the form of toccatas, which are prefixed 

60 Walther himself has written the greater part of his life in Mattheson's 
" Ehrenpforte " (Hamburg, 1740), pp. 387, 390. See Gerber, Lex., II., Sp. 765. 

61 His copy, with many manuscript additions, was in the possession of the 
lexicographer Gerber, who incorporated the chief part of them in his own 
Lexicon. After his death the manuscript came into the library of the " Gesell- 
schaft der Musikfreunde," in Vienna. 

w To those mentioned by Gerber there should be added a book of arrange- 
ments of the Advent hymn " Wie soil ich dich empfangen," published b) 
Christian Leopold in Augsburg. 


to four of them. 58 His chief interest was bestowed on "organ- 
chorales"; he was a diligent collector of good chorale ar- 
rangements by past, and sometimes by contemporary, com- 
posers, and he himself made many hundreds of such pieces. 
There still exist five more or less comprehensive books of 
chorales collected by him, in which we find Bohm fairly 
represented, and also Buxtehude, in whom he had been 
interested by Andreas Werkmeister. However, his chief 
model was Pachelbel, by whose genius all the Erfurt 
organists of the time were influenced, and whose son he 
went especially to Nuremberg to visit in the year 1706. An 
entire set of chorale-preludes for a year (i.e., one or more for 
each service of the year) were composed by him in the 
manner of that master. 54 One can fully join in the high 
praise bestowed upon him by Mattheson, who calls him the 
second Pachelbel, " if not in art the first," and asserts that 
Walther's chorales surpass in elegance all that he had ever 
heard or seen, and yet he had heard many and seen many 
more. 55 In this specialty he must be considered as the 
greatest master next to Sebastian Bach, if we put out of sight 
the long-drawn-out form of the North German organ chorale, 
in which he had only tried his hand. All that Pachelbel had 
left technically more or less undeveloped was completed by 
Walther. The counterpoints are worked in freer contrast to 
the melody, and form an independent and self-contained 
organism, in which the separate parts move with great 
freedom ; with a like ease the cantus firmus now appears in 
the bass, now in an inner or an upper part ; the pedal 
technique is fully developed. Moreover, he has at his com- 
mand a considerable wealth of inventive combinations, and 
that facility for the solution of difficult contrapuntal pro- 
blems which is only acquired by persevering industry. 

He was conscious of his powers, and fond of exercising 
them in artfully devised canons. For example, to the melody 
of " Wir Christenleut hab'n jetzund Freud," he added a two- 

68 In the royal library at Berlin. 

54 Mattheson, Critica Musica, Vol. II., p. 175. 

65 Vollkommener Capellmeister, p. 476. 


part canon on the octave at the distance of a crotchet, and 
put the cantus firmus on the pedal. 56 He was very fond of 
working the melody in canon between the upper part and 
the pedal in many kinds of alternations, as for example, 
where the bass enters with the simple melody, and the upper 
part follows a bar later with it richly adorned (in an arrange- 
ment of " Ach was soil ich Sunder machen "), or the upper 
voice proceeds in minims and the pedal comes in after two 
bars in crotchets, and so catches it up at the end of each 
line (" Mitten wir im Leben sind "). 57 Also where it is pos- 
sible to use two lines of a chorale in close combination, he 
knows how to discover it ; and accordingly he worked a 
"chorale fugue" through on the first line of " Herr Jesu 
Christ, du hochstes Gut," in such a manner that he used 
the second line as counter-subject and, indeed, in diminution 
as well as in double counterpoint. 58 Such an experiment, 
demanding both art and genius, he tried even on the major 
melody, probably originating with Pachelbel, to " Wo soil ich 
fliehen bin," which is so worked that it allows of double 
counterpoint in all four parts, and consequently in the second 
verse the tenor has counterpoint to the alto, the alto to the 
tenor, the soprano to the bass, and the bass to the soprano. 59 
But this very facility in counterpoint was the origin of 
many of Walther's failures. Such a full development of the 
technical powers is a sword that cuts both ways ; it often 
turns against him who wields it, since it selfishly makes 

68 The autograph is on a loose quarto-leaf in the royal library in Berlin. 
Mattheson, Critica Musica. In the same place, in the form of a leaf from an 
album, is a " Canone infinite gradato a 4 voci, sopra : A Solis ortus cardine " 


fc " *- " hfcbE: t- 

1tt" it. * 

viz., a canon on the fifth, in which the parts ascend at each repetition, so that 
the soprano and tenor begin the second time on E, and alto and bass on B, and 
so on. 

67 Both these are in the Frankenberger Autograph, p. 270 and 334. 

68 Commer, Musica Sacra, I., No. 145. 

69 It is in the Konigsberg Autograph. 


itself too prominent, injuring the composer's conception by 
its very nature. To curb it properly and to keep it always 
in subjection to the ideal requires the greatness of genius, 
which must be denied to Walther, whose scope was narrow, 
and whose tendency was to trivialities. 

The idea of the Pachelbel organ chorales, which was to 
allow the choral melody to stand out in its simple grandeur, 
so that the characteristic religious feeling should spread aloft 
and around, was often quite obscured by Walther's too arti- 
ficial method of treatment by canons, in which the attention 
is given more to separate combinations than to a compre- 
hensive plan. Two examples may make this clear. An 
arrangement of " Hilf Gott, dass mirs gelinge" 60 is planned 
quite in Pachelbel's manner ; two upper voices treat in imi- 
tation each line of the chorale, which after a time appears 
slowly and majestically in the pedal part. The composer, 
however, is not satisfied with this, but, besides the melody in 
the pedal, brings it in again on a loud great organ a fifth 
above, and moreover in diminution, adorned and shortened 
in parts just as it may happen to suit. Every one must feel 
the painful restlessness of this over-refined combination, 
since the ear vacillates to and fro incessantly between the 
quiet simple melody below and the restless ornamented one 
above ; nay, what is still worse, between the impression of 
tonic and dominant below and above. A fair and noble 
picture is thus frightfully distorted. The second instance 
has to do with the chorale " Gott der Vater wohn uns bei." 
The two first lines are first delivered by the upper part in 
minims with beautiful counterpoint in semiquavers. Even 
with the last three notes the pedal comes in with the repeti- 
tion, and the attention is urged on to another subject before 
the goal first suggested is reached. After the pedal is re 
leased from its task, the upper voice again takes possession 
of the lead, but is only allowed to give out two notes before 
the pedal comes in and drowns it with doubled diminution. 
The following line is led by the pedal, and the upper part 
comes after it in canon ; the next is given to the upper part 

Commer, op. cit., No. 147. 

2 C 


alone, but the one after it is again treated in imitation ; then 
it is repeated. In the last lines the upper and lower parts 
are so interlaced that the progression of the melody is 
almost unrecognisable. Here we are led by the superfluity 
of art nearly to the point of view of Samuel Scheidt, or a 
hundred years back. 

By an error this organ chorale has come to be included under 
Bach's name in GriepenkerFs edition of his organ works. 61 
But I have no hesitation in saying that Bach never wrote a 
piece in which the plan and organisation of the whole is 
so utterly sacrificed to separate interesting combinations. 
The whole difference between the two composers is clearly 
shown by such productions, which irresistibly confirm the 
overwhelming superiority of Bach's genius. Although he 
had much greater polyphonic ingenuity than Walther, he 
never allows himself to be carried away by it to the injury 
of the ideal, but remains grand and simple even through 
the most complicated forms. In the canonic treatment of 
a chorale-melody, giving rise to the hardest problems (of 
which he has given the most brilliant examples among his 
Weimar chorale arrangements), he hardly ever employs the 
process in the strict Pachelbel form, evidently because he 
fully entered into the poetic depth of the chorale. We only 
know two exceptions, and here the indescribably grand 
achievement vindicates itself. 62 Thus Bach alone really 
perfected the Pachelbel ideal, inasmuch as it was he who took 
that last step with confidence, and reproduced in the coun- 
terpoint the poetic essence of the melody, of which only 
weak indications appear in Walther. A publication, com- 
plete as far as possible, of Walther's organ chorales would, 
however, be the only proper method of judging him, so that 
their technical subtlety and perfection which Mattheson 
happily calls "elegance" should be admired as they deserve. 

The personal connection between these two men, already 
prepared by relationship, soon became a friendly intimacy, 

91 P. S. V. Cah. 6, No. 24 (245). It is in the Frankenberger Autograpli with 
Walther's name in full, p. 74. 

62 " Dies sind die heiligen zehn Gebot," and " Vater unser im Himmelreich," 
in the third volume of the " Clavieriibung " (Peters). 



and Bach stood godfather to Walther's eldest son Johann 
Gottfried (September 26, 1712) , m An album leaf, on which 
a four-part canon written by Bach, with a dedication, we 
can certainly refer to Walther, particularly as an exactly 
similar leaf, on which there is also a canon, but by Walther, 
is extant. Bach's memento is in this form : 

" Canon d 4 Voc : perpetuus." 

This trifle is here written for the owner (of the book) in affectionate 

Weimar, Aug. 2, 1713. 

Joh. Sebast. Bach. 

Furste. Sachs. Hofforg. u, 

Carrier Musicus. 64 

A love of the canon form was at that time common to 
them both ; it is conspicuous, as has been already said, even 
in some of Bach's organ chorales written at Weimar. We 
shall presently see them emulating each other in another 
branch of musical composition. But it is self-evident and 
natural that men so near in their ages and aims should inter- 
change their views and experience in art. Thus an anecdote, 
which must have been preserved for posterity by one of 
Bach's elder sons, most likely refers to Walther. Sebastian 
had very soon attained so high a degree of skill in organ 
and clavier playing, and set himself such difficult problems 
in his own compositions, that he could play the compositions 
of others unhesitatingly at sight. He once said before a 

63 Parish Register at Weimar. 

64 This leaf was in the possession of Herr Clauss, consul-general at Berlin, 
who allowed me to copy it. The collection was sold by auction in 1872, at 

2 C 2 


friend who we suppose must have been Walther that he 
believed he really could play anything and everything at 
sight, and his friend for a joke determined to teach him 
differently within eight days. " He invited him," says our 
authority, 65 " to breakfast one morning, and laid on the desk 
of his instrument, besides other pieces, one which at first 
sight looked quite insignificant. Bach came in, and, accord- 
ing to his custom, walked straight to the instrument, partly 
to play and partly to look through the pieces which lay on 
the desk. While he was turning over the pages and trying 
them, his host went into another room to prepare breakfast. 
In a few minutes Bach came, in its turn, to the piece pre- 
pared for him, and began to play it ; but not far from the 
beginning he came to a standstill. He studied it, began 
again and again, came to a stop. " No," he exclaimed, 
rising to leave the instrument, while his friend was laughing 
to himself in the next room ; " no one can play everything 
at sight : it is not possible." 

At a later period some estrangement must have occurred 
between them ; this is evident from the way in which 
Walther speaks of Bach in his Lexicon. As we look through 
the worse than meagre article, it is difficult to believe that 
its author was the man who had lived with Bach for more 
than nine years, in a small town, on those terms of equality 
which result from a community of artistic interests, and 
the closest intimacy. Not a word in it betrays that it 
treats of the man who was already one of the greatest 
organists in all Germany, and not merely esteemed so at the 
court of Weimar, but famous far and wide. There is no 
mention of all his numerous compositions written in Weimar 
cantatas and pieces for the organ and clavier which 
Mattheson admired in Hamburg as early as in 1716 ; nothing 
about the competition so much talked of and so honourable 
to all German musicians between Bach and Marchand in 
1717. These were all events amid which Walther had 
actually lived, and which it was impossible that he could 
have forgotten by the time when he wrote the Lexicon. 

Forkel, Ueber Job. Seb. Bachs Leben, p. 16. 


Nor can it be objected that in all the biographical articles 
he confined himself only to the briefest statement of the prin- 
cipal facts; on the contrary, the article on Georg Oesterreich 
shows how discursive he could be concerning his personal 
acquaintance. How much more interesting would the nar- 
rative of his intimacy with Bach have been ! But even his 
later additions in manuscript refer only to Bach's residence 
at Leipzig, and are derived from sources accessible to all. 
His own living interest in his great contemporary must have 
cooled entirely; and it is difficult to believe, willing as we may 
be, that the divergence of their paths in life should have 
been the only cause of it. There is, besides, external evidence 
that even during the last years of Bach's residence in 
Weimar the old intimacy between them no longer existed. 
Bach went from thence to visit his cousin Johann Ludwig 
Bach, capellmeister at Meiningen, whom he learnt to esteem 
highly, and he copied many of his compositions with his own 
hand. If he had still been in intimate intercourse with 
Walther it would be extremely surprising that he, in his 
Lexicon, should betray no knowledge of Bach of Meiningen, 
for he must certainly have heard much in his praise from 
Sebastian. But as to the cause of his estrangement we can, 
at most, hazard a guess. Possibly Walther found himself 
more thrown into the background by Bach's transcendent 
merit than his very justifiable self-esteem could brook, and 
when once this form of dissatisfaction has taken root, and 
the field is so narrow, how easily occasions for sensitiveness 
and friction arise ! It is highly significant that Walther, in 
his collection of organ chorales a province of his art in 
which he had every right to feel himseli a master has 
borrowed comparatively little from Bach. 

Bach was thrown into near relations with yet another 
personage who held office in connection with the town 
church, namely, the cantor, Georg Theodore Reineccius. 
Heie again we derive our information from the fact of his 
having been godfather to one of Bach's twin children (born 
February 23, 1713). Reineccius was born at New Branden- 
burg in 1660, and was cantor in Weimar from 1687 till 1726, 
and also teacher in the Gvmnasium, at first to the fourth 


class and then to the third. His colleague Walther testifies 
of him that he was an excellent composer, " though he had 
learnt to compose merely from studying good scores," and he 
adds that Capellmeister Theile, of Naumburg, who was called 
the father of counterpoint, had spoken of him as " a learned 
composer," for a Mass in E major. We are in position to 
test this opinion, and indeed to confirm it from a motett for 
a double choir: " Preise, Jerusalem, den Herrn" ("Praise, 
O Jerusalem, the Lord"). Judging from this, the "good 
scores" must have been principally by Italian masters, for 
the motett displays so much comprehension of vocal feeling, 
so much skill in the treatment both of the double choir and 
of eight-part harmony, so much flow in the conduct of the 
parts, that a German of that time could hardly have 
originated them without an Italian model. It consists of 
several broadly handled movements, and closes with a 
"Hallelujah" fugue. 66 A series of texts for cantatas for 
the whole year, founded on the Gospels, and printed about 
1700, show him to have been a master of his native tongue 
and of rhythm, and the music for these pieces, at any rate 
in great part, was also composed by him. He seems to have 
had a manner calculated to engage the confidence of the 
young ; for, besides Bach, Matthias Gesner, who was six years 
younger and who was corrector (or sub-warden as we may 
render it) of the Weimar College from the early part of 1715 
till 1729, was devotedly attached to him, and publicly stated 
the fact years after. 67 Gesner was passionately fond of 
music, and as the two branches of study were united in 
Reineccius, who was a very superior man, it is pretty certain 
the learned Gesner and the illustrious artist Bach at this 
time had already begun the friendship which after an interval 

68 In a collection of 93 Motetts in score (No. 13,661) in the University library 
(Gotthold) at Konigsberg, p. 203. This one is only signed " G. T. R.," but as 
the collection was apparently made in Thunngia, there can hardly be any 
doubt as to the composer. 

67 Jo. Matth. Gesneri primcp linece isugoges in eruditionem universalem. 
Tom. II., pag. 553 (edit, alt.} : " Vinaria familiaritas mihi fidt cum pr&ceptore 
tertice classis (Reinesio] qui simul Cantor erat atque ct'llegii totius senior, et per 
XL annos in populosa urbe munere scholastico June tus ; et erat vit bonus, cut 
fidtm habere poteram.'' 


of more than twelve years they re-cemented in Leipzig, and 
which on Gesner's side found enthusiastic utterance in the 
well-known note to his edition of Quintilian 68 an utterance 
which does equal honour to him and to Bach. 

Bach himself stood in no direct connection with the 
Gymnasium, since the scholars engaged in the choir were of 
course under the direction of the cantor, and special lessons 
in music for the college boys were not instituted till 1733 ; 69 
still he must have exercised considerable influence over the 
choir, at any rate in his later capacity as concertmeister. It 
has already been noted that he met again in Weimar with 
his old friend the rector of the Ohrdruf College, Magister 
Joh. Christoph Kiesewetter, who in 1712 was called to be at 
the head of the new Gymnasium. 

There is less to say with reference to the members of the 
ducal band. The capellmeister was Johann Samuel Drese, 
born in 1644, cousin and pupil of Adam Drese, and who, 
like him, at first officiated as court organist to Duke Bern- 
hard of Sax-Jena ; but at the accession of Wilhelm Ernst in 
1683 he was called to fill his office at Weimar, and in 1671 
had married a wife of that town. 70 He was, however, feeble 
in health, and during the last twenty years of his service 
could scarcely fulfil his duties ; nevertheless the duke, who 
clung much to old and faithful servants, did not allow him 
to leave, but gave him the assistance of a deputy. This 
assistant, from 1695 till about 1705, was Georg Christoph 
Strattner, who is known in hymnology by the melodies he 
set to Joachim Neander's " Bundesliedern und Danksal- 
men " (" Songs of the Covenant and Psalms of Thanks- 
giving"). 71 In his installation he was charged with "the 
direction of the whole band in the absence of the present 
capellmeister, Johann Samuel Drese, when, by reason of his 
well-known bodily infirmities, he could not be present, and 
in such cases to hold the usual examinations in the house of 
the said Drese ; also not at any time less than every fourth 

68 To the Institut. Orat., I., 12, 3. 
89 Wette, Op. Cit., p. 415. 

70 Walther, Lexicon. 

71 Walther, Lexicon. Comp. Winterfeld, Evangel. Kirchengesang, II. 516 ff. 


Sunday to conduct in the prince's castle-chapel a piece of 
his own composition, and at all times, whether he were 
conducting or not, to sing tenor," &c., for which he was to 
receive 200 gulden yearly. Subsequently Samuel Drese's son, 
Johann Wilhelm, became deputy capellmeister, probably with 
the same duties, and after his father's death (December i, 
1716) he filled his place. Nothing can be said as to the 
artistic productions of either ; those of the son seem to have 
been quite insignificant, since Walther does not even mention 
him in the Lexicon, and the invalid father during Bach's 
residence certainly but rarely came into prominence, so that 
it was easy for Bach to come to the front with his talents 
and his personal influence. The violinist Westhoff had been 
dead ever since 1705, and no single celebrity deserves to be 
named as belonging to the band, so far as I have been able 
to discover. Still we must assume it as certain that, as a 
body, it was skilled and competent, from the lively interest 
taken by the court even in chamber music. Among the 
musical personages of Weimar who deserve to be mentioned 
in this place was Johann Christoph Lorbeer, court advocate 
and poet laureate, who first displayed his taste in the arts 
by his " Lob der Edeln Musik " (" Praise of the noble art of 
music," Weimar, 1696), and a year afterwards chivalrously 
defended his favourite art against the attacks of the rector 
Vockerodt, who assailed it in a bitter pamphlet. He was 
on excellent terms with Samuel Drese, who prefaced his 
friend's " Lob der Edeln Musik" with a poem in eulogy of 
his " dear friend " (" Herzen's Freund "). 



BACH'S nine years' residence in Weimar was the period 
of his most brilliant activity as an organist and com- 
poser for the organ, for this particular department was in 
the first place and above all that which his official position 
assigned to him The very competent author of the 


Necrology says, " The benevolence of his gracious sovereign 
inspired him to attempt all that was possible in the art of 
handling the organ, and here it was that he composed most 
of his organ pieces." 72 The vigour of endeavour which was 
characteristic of him, together with gifts of the very first 
order, left no doubt of his success. His fame soon spread 
throughout north and central Germany ; in the excursions 
for artistic purposes which he made from Weimar he covered 
himself with honour of every kind ; and Mattheson of Ham- 
burg wrote of him in 1716, " I have seen things by the 
famous organist, Herr Johann Sebastian Bach, of Weimar, 
which, both for church use and for keyed instruments, are 
certainly so conceived that we cannot but highly esteem 
the man," and at the same time he asked him for a sketch 
of his biography for his " Ehrenpforte," which he was then 
planning, but which did not appear till twenty-four years 
later. 73 How he applied himself to acquire the highest per- 
fection of a peculiar form of fingering technique, on which 
indeed a considerable share of his greatness as a clavier- 
player ultimately depended, it will be his part to tell us later. 
With this he combined a certainty, boldness, and versatility 
in the use of the pedal obbligato, such as had been hitherto 
unheard of. 74 His works, of which the technical difficulties 
remain unsurpassed, even at the present day, exist to 
testify that as time went on he achieved the most unlimited 
mastery over the mighty instrument ; and as with him the 
external form was always the handmaid merely of an inward 
purpose, we may conclude that the demands made by them 
on executive skill never rise to the utmost height of his own 
technical capabilities, as exhibited in free improvisation 
when display was the first object, or when trying some new 

Even in the knowledge of organ-building of which the 

72 Mizler, Op. Cit., p ; 153. Compare Forkel, p. 6. 

73 Mattheson, Das beschiitzte Orchestre, Hamburg, 1717, p. 222. Probably 
tne first time that Bach is mentioned in literature. 

74 Mizler, p. 172. Compare Gerber, Lexicon, I., col. 90. A fragment, appa- 
rently autograph, and a very interesting " pedal exe rciiium " by Bach, are in the 
possession of Professor Wagener, of Marburg. 


project laid before the council of Mtihlhausen gives so signal 
a proof he soon had made himself perfect to such a degree 
that he was considered as quite the equal of the oldest pro- 
ficients. As time goes on we shall often see him called 
upon to exercise his keen insight into the subject. This 
quality, applied to his own compositions for the organ, 
gave rise to one element of essential consequence as 
regards the full effect, which element has unfortunately 
not been handed down to us in its original form, namely, 
a very characteristic and ingenious use of the stops. 
Bach's judgment was equally eminent in the combina- 
tion of harmonies and of qualities of tone, and as in 
the former his eye had detected paths which no one had 
previously dreamed of, so in the mixture of musical tones he 
was inexhaustible in his devices, peculiar sometimes to the 
verge of strangeness, but never pedantic or devoid of style. 75 
This art, which was allied to the orchestration of later com- 
posers, he displayed especially when a powerful instrument, 
fully supplied with stops, came under his hand ; unfortu- 
nately in his places of residence he never possessed one worthy 
of such a master. Since, however, tone-colouring is espe- 
cially adapted to introduce the expression of a poetic element 
into music, skilful management of the stops must be of great 
value, particularly in the organ chorales. Whether the 
means will ever offer for detecting in a number of these the 
traces of his intentions as to the use of various qualities 
of tones is in the hands of fate. Bach, at any rate, did not 
indicate them in any of the autographs that have been pre- 
served, because the vast difference in the stops of different 
organs must determine which are to be used, and at that 
time much had to be left to the intelligence of the performer 
of organ music. 

From the form and character of the compositions only very 
general hints can be obtained. But in one single organ 
chorale it is possible to arrive at Bach's original way of 
using the stops; in an indirect way, it is true, but with 
perfect certainty. Walther gives in each of his most compre- 

76 Mizler, p. 172. Forkel, p. 20. 


hensive collections an arrangement by Bach of the chorale, 
" Ein' feste Burg," which he must have obtained, as he 
did all the Bach chorales which he has handed down, at 
the time of their living together in Weimar ; the plan of it 
points certainly to an early date of composition. 78 In the 
older collection the direction, " a 3 clav." (for three manuals) 
is written over it, and over the commencement of the left 
hand " Fagott," and over the right, which comes in after 
two and a half bars, "Sesquialtera." Now neither Walther's 
nor Bach's organ in Weimar had three manuals, 77 nor had 
either a fagotto stop, so that these directions cannot possibly 
have proceeded from Walther, nor have been inserted by 
Bach with reference to the castle organ. But when we 
remember that, according to Bach's own scheme of the 
repairs of the Miihlhausen organ, a i6-feet Fagotto was to be 
put in instead of the useless trumpet ; that further, agreeably 
to his specification, a tertia had been put into the " Brust- 
positiv," "with which, in combination with several other 
stops, a good full ' sesquialtera* tone may be obtained "; 
and that, lastly, Bach was bound to look after the structure 
until its completion, and so in some sort was held respon- 
sible for it we can no longer doubt that a composition 
adapted to the remodelled Miihlhausen organ is before us, 
in which all the newly introduced stops were to be shown 
off. Since the new structure was ended in 1709, the com- 
position must be of that date; and the chorale introduced 
into it more particularly assigns it to the Reformation fes- 
tival, on which day Bach must have first displayed the 
powers of the restored organ to the townspeople and the 

The combination of a reed-bassoon with the sesquialtera 
is one of those "entirely new inventions" of which Bach 
speaks in its place in the specification before mentioned, and 
gives a fairly good idea of the striking combinations of sound 

78 These two collections are the Konigsberg (evidently the older), and the 
Frankenberger (the later). The chorale with which we are concerned is P. S. V., 
Cah. 6, No. 22. 

77 The expression " clavier " refers always simply to manuals when speaking 
of the organ. 


which he was fond of making. The composition shows off 
both stops equally well, since the first lines with their 
repetitions are almost entirely in two parts, and worked in 
such a manner that the right and left hand alternately have 
the cantus firmus. In the twentieth bar the sign R. (Ruck- 
positiv) shows that both hands are to play on the third 
manual, from which point the fifth line of the melody is 
treated in Bohm's way, and developed into a subject ; and 
the pedal enters there for the first time. Although this 
bears no direction as to the stops, one can quite see, from 
the quietly gliding quavers on the pedals, which demand a 
clear intonation in combination with the slighter volume of 
sound of the choir-organ (Riickpositiv), that the new 32-feet 
sub-bass (see the specification No. 4) was to be shown off. 
From the twenty-fourth bar onwards the manuals of the Ober- 
werk and Brustwerk are once more kept in activity as at the 
beginning; they cross each other, possibly with more power- 
ful stops, in semiquaver passages, while the pedal takes the 
cantus firmus for the sixth and seventh lines, doubtless to 
afford an example of the improved bass-posaune (see specifi- 
cation No. 5) ; although there is no direction for this, the 
whole design points clearly to it. The treatment of the 
eighth line (bars 33-39) corresponds with that of the fifth, 
even in the mixing of the stops, since the rhythm of the pedal- 
figure _J_n_ is very well adapted to the display of a quick 
" speaking," on which so much depends in any sub-bass, but 
particularly in the 32-feet one. At the last three semi- 
quavers of the thirty-ninth bar we find the direction " Ober- 
werk " (upper manual), which would hold good in Walther's 
Weimar organ ; it is not hard to see, from the facility of the 
changes of the stops, that from this point the Oberwerk and 
Brustwerk were coupled together (see specification No. n), 
and that at last, with the second half of the fiftieth bar, the 
full organ enters and continues to the end. Walther, who 
very likely accompanied Bach to Miihlhausen as a friend of 
the organ-builder Wender, noted down in the copy of the 
chorale in his older collection the surprising use of the 
stops at the beginning; but in the course of transcription 
adapted the changes more and more to his own two-manual 


organ (hence the simple direction " oberwerk " in bars 24 
and 39), and left out others, as the entrance of the full 
organ at bar 50 ; in the later of the two collections he 
omitted the addition " a 3 clav.," "fagotto," " sesquialtera," 
because they were without meaning for his own practice. 

How Bach himself handled this organ chorale how he 
used the rich variety of the organ in beautiful combination 
and diversity, and yet was able to lose sight so entirely of 
all these outer inducements, and to forget them in the idea 
of his composition, that all that was strictly musical held its 
due and proper place for this we must feel the deepest 
wonder. Of course every form was not equally well fitted 
for this aim, and Bach, who had at command all possible 
means, did right in choosing the chorale type of Bohm. Nor 
need we suppose that he always used such a variety of 
stops ; he allowed himself naturally to be guided in this by 
the character of the composition, and we may be sure that 
he never would have fallen into the mistake of adorning the 
simple grandeur of Pachelbel's chorales with variety of 
colouring. 78 

We will now turn our attention once more from the 
technical or external means to their proper end and object, 
that is the compositions themselves, and must first notice 
a number of free organ pieces. There is much slighter 
chronological testimony as to the date of Bach's organ 
compositions than for his cantatas, or even for his chamber 
music. What there is to be known, however, gives us, 
in combination with internal evidence, a pretty clear idea 

I of the works of the Weimar court organist. 79 The free 
78 I take occasion here to observe that the Walther manuscript deviates in 
some points from the Griepenkerl edition. Since there is no autograph of 
Bach's, Walther's readings have the fullest authority, and this is justified by 
internal evidence. The two most important differences consist in this, that the 
second half of the nineteenth bar is thus 

that the pedal bass is an octave lower in bars 21-28 (? bars 25-32). 
See App. A., No. 18. 


compositions for the organ fall naturally, even to those only 
moderately practised in criticism, into two distinct groups, 
an earlier and a later; but I at least will not venture to 
carry through such a distinction in the case of the chorale 
arrangements. It is quite plain that this was the branch of 
art in which Bach soonest reached maturity, and in which 
his perfect originality first appeared. In those of Bach's 
organ chorales which Walther has preserved to us we find 
in parts a style so extraordinarily large and bold that it is 
scarcely surpassed by the compositions of the later Leipzig 
time ; and we may remember how perfect those chorale 
partitas in Bohm's manner seemed, which were written by 
a youth about seventeen years old. A single piece like the 
arrangement of " Bin* feste Burg," the date of which we 
are able to discover, is of little service in evidence, since 
it was written for a particular purpose ; for the present we 
must content ourselves with a collective survey devoted to 
the close of the Weimar period. 

Three independent preludes, 80 respectively in G major, 
A minor, and C major, standing by themselves, head the 
list. The first must be one of the very earliest of the 
Weimar compositions, and may have been written before 
1708. A sort of thematic development is indeed perceptible, 
but the chief motive idea was the setting free of a tu- 
multuous flood of sound, in which the impetuous spirit of 
the young composer revels with delight ; it is expressed in 
passages of semiquavers that rush tumultuously here and 
there, and in the full resounding chords. The characteristic 
of the second is calm, clear sobriety ; it is entirely built on 
the thematic material of a single bar, the separate sections 
of which go through all the parts with ingenious changes of 
position and with great variety of harmonies. The effect of 
the rhythm, continuous throughout and of the same quiet- 
ness, is at best, however, somewhat monotonous, and only 
quite at the end is greater animation given by the introduc- 

*> P. S. V., Cah. 8, No. n (247) ; Cah. 4, No. 13 (243) ; Cah. 8, No. 8 (247). 
The second alone is well-authenticated by the handwriting of Bach's pupils, 
J. L. Krebs and Kittel ; the writing of the others is newer, but from internal 
evidence there can be no doubt of their genuineness. 


tion of semiquaver passages ; still the use of the doubled 
pedal part is especially fine. The third and shortest prelude 
is partly built on a descending scale-passage treated in 
imitation, and might, by reason of its neat four-part writing, 
be assigned to a somewhat later period, did not bars 20 to 26 
contradict the supposition, in which the treatment is not of 
a piece with the strict style of the rest of the prelude, 
showing an inconsistency not to be found in Bach's later 
works. A fantasia in C major 81 for manuals alone must 
next be mentioned, the germ of which consists of the rhythm 
J JT3 : it seems to have been written for a technical 
purpose, since it demands a careful legato style of playing 
and a facility in changing the fingers on the same note. As 
by this time pupils had begun to collect about Bach, the 
piece may very well have been written for some of them. 
Probably a fugue 82 in the same key was originally attached 
to it, as it is almost entirely for the manuals and is founded 
on a similar rhythm. Its early date may be inferred from the 
five concluding bars, to say nothing of all the rest ; for one 
thing, because the formation of the chords in them follows 
exactly the Buxtehude manner, of which the composer 
shows no trace in the later Weimar years, and also from the 
pedal, which only enters at this point. The fugue cannot be 
called a pre-eminent work of art, though the writing is good 
and flowing. 83 

Next in order come eight short preludes and fugues 
which have been handed down together. 84 It is not easily 
intelligible how these can have been considered as the 
work of Bach's novitiate, since throughout they bear the 

P. S. V., Cah. 8 (247), No. 9. 

82 P. S. V., Cah. 8 (247), No. 10. 

83 In the tenth bar I consider the reading incorrect ; the F sharp in the alto 
and tenor should be F each time. Compare the concluding harmonies of the 
toccata in D minor. P. S. V., Cah. 4(243), No. 4. 

84 P. S. V., Cah. 8 (247), No. 5. An older MS. of these, from the legacy of G. 
Polchau, the Hamburg music-teacher, has come into the possession of the royal 
library in Berlin. The title is: " VIII PRMLUDIA \ ed \ VIII FVGEX 
I di. | y. S. BACH (?)" On the right side below: " Poss: \ C. A. Klein." 
There is in my opinion no reason for the note of interrogation, which is as old 
as the rest of the title. 


stamp of a commanding master of composition, and the 
short, simple forms correspond just as little with Bach's 
inclination at his earliest period as with that of any other 
young genius. On the other hand, with all their general 
independence, there are a number of particular features 
in them which point plainly to certain mannerisms of the 
northern masters : for instance, the form of the themes 
in the first and fourth fugues, a great deal of the eighth 
fugue, and figures such as those in the thirteenth and four- 
teenth bars of the fifth prelude. We must therefore suppose 
these eight compositions to have been written when the 
author had not yet quite freed himself from the influences 
of those great organ-masters. We may add to this the fact 
that most of the preludes, both in general outline and in 
their surprising and irregular figures, show clearly the in- 
fluence of Vivaldi's violin concertos a great number of 
which Bach was just then engaged in arranging for the 
clavier or organ. This influence is so evident that it would be 
superfluous to trace it in particular cases, especially as the 
arrangements from Vivaldi are published and the comparison 
is easy. The suggestion here presents itself that these pieces 
too were written for some one especially capable scholar, 
or perhaps more; they demand a not inconsiderable technique, 
especially in the pedal obbligato, but do not display enough 
technical difficulty and are not important enough in sub- 
stance for the master's own use. The second, third, fifth, 
and seventh, are especially fine. In the sixth fugue, which 
otherwise is very successful, the pedal comes in (in the 
thirty-eighth bar) after a long pause, not with the theme, but 
only with notes to support the harmony, which is not quite 
in accordance with rule, and which Bach never would have 
allowed to stand in his later time. On the other hand, the 
introduction of the key of C minor (in the thirty-first bar), 
quite out of the natural and easy course of things, is a true 

Among the number of compositions of greater extent and 
intrinsic merit we must first mention a fugue in G minor, 85 

85 P. S. V., Cah. 4 (243), No. 7. 



which, on account of its very beautiful theme and the 
masterly flow of the writing, has justly become a great 
favourite. The individual characteristics which make it 
inferior to the works of the following year must not be over- 
looked. Of these the most prominent is the counterpoint 
on the theme, which is always the same, and only in one 
part, since notes to fill up the harmony and the doubled 
sixths (bars 41 and 42) cannot be considered as such. It 
is only from the fifth bar before the end that it is in three 
parts, while the beautiful free episodes display greater 
polyphonic animation. The irregular form of the response 
need not be objected to; the strict rule of fugue which 
is here transgressed can hardly hold good for so long 
and melodic a theme, since, although the lead on the 
dominant should be followed by the lead on the tonic, 
yet in the next notes the key of D minor ought to be 
plainly felt, and the ear should only be permitted to rest 
for a moment in the principal key. Here, however, this 
is the less necessary since the whole composition inclines 
not to the key of the dominant, but to that of the rela- 
tive major; not to mention that the beauty of the theme 
would have suffered if the rule of the response had been 
strictly adhered to. Another indication of the date is to 
be found in the meaningless entry of the pedal in bar 26; 
and yet another (and a still stronger) in the entry of the 
theme in the left hand, as if preparing the way for some 
thing else, in bar 25, which entry is transferred after a 
few notes to the right hand. Such features, which, con- 
trary as they are to all objective principles of form, can 
only be explained by the hypothesis of a momentary freak, 
would necessarily be more and more cast aside by the 
thoughtful musician, who, following nature's principle, must 
endeavour to give definite aim to the several parts of the 
organism he has created. Now if this arbitrariness and 
defiance of rule be found elsewhere, it will be a piece of 
internal evidence of the most certain kind to prove that 
the pieces in which such characteristics are found were 
written within a short time of one another. 
Appearances then suggest that a prelude and fugue in 

2 D 


C major 86 must have been written about this time. In 
bar 23 of the fugue, the pedal, which up to this point has 
been silent, enters with a passage resembling the theme, 
after which, in the next bar, the theme itself appears in the 
upper part, and then the pedal is silent again until the 
thirty-sixth bar, when it has the true theme. Again, near 
the end, after a pause of more than twenty bars, it starts 
suddenly once more with a pedal-point. Both the prelude 
and the fugue, moreover, in their whole form offer us a 
sufficiently safe ground for assuming the date of their com- 
position in the massive character of the chords, the effective 
and brilliant close, and the freedom of the part-writing. 
The effect of this work when well played, and upon an 
organ of adequate power, is quite extraordinary. Through- 
out we hear the roar of the wind, as in a stormy night of 
March, and we feel that such power is irresistible. 

A prelude and fugue in E minor is of an utterly different 
character. 87 In the prelude sullen haughtiness strives 
against a deep-seated melancholy, which utterly overcomes 
it in the fugue. The inner connection of the two pieces 
is altogether much closer than that which usually exists 
in Bach between the prelude and the fugue. The former 
begins with broad rolling passages (the shakes in demi- 
semiquavers in bars 6, 8, 9, 10, and 28 are in Buxtehude's 
manner), 88 but from the eleventh bar onwards leads up to a 
quieter climax, in which we seem to see the earnest coun- 
tenance of the composer without a veil. It is this noble 
melancholy which is the key-note of so many nay, even of 
most of Bach's compositions ; only Beethoven possessed 
the same degree of power in expressing conditions of the 

80 P. S. V., Cah. 4 (243), No. I. B. G., XV., p. 81. This internal evidence is 
strengthened by the external evidence of the manuscript, which has come from 
the legacy of Griepenkerl into the royal library at Berlin. It is in autograph, and 
evidently a first sketch of the composition, since several passages in it are 
marked as tentative. From the characteristics of the writing and of the 
paper, this autograph can belong only to a very early period. 

w P. S. V., Cah. 3 (242), No. 10. 

38 The numbering of Ihe bars is according to Griepenkerl's (Peters) edition. 
In the Bach Society's edition bar 18 is struck out, as being at least doubtful. 



mind, and these took quite a different colour under his 
hands. Like a deep sigh, this phrase 

goes through the different parts, accompanied by chords that 
come in reluctantly after the notes of the melody. The 
pedal indeed ascends with mighty strides at the last, even 
in tenths, but in vain it is obliged to yield. Then the fugue 
comes in; its meaning as a whole is at once intelligible 
to every one, but in detail it is full of expression which is 
quite indescribable, and which yet seems to crave for inter- 
pretation. The theme, at first timid and trembling, and 
then going on its quiet way, is full of infinite charm ; 89 the 
counterpoint is in the form of question and answer, and the 
theme makes its last appearance with resolute calmness in 
an overpoweringly beautiful pedal entry, and in the same 
position as the first delivery. 

In the case of a musician who feels himself in full 
and hard-won command of all technical possibilities, it is 
intelligible that he should seek opportunities of exhibiting 
his ability from every point of view. Thus it happens that 
the compositions of the first year of the Weimar period not 
unfrequently show, besides the intrinsic importance of the 
ideas themselves, a strongly marked desire for the display 

89 Which, however, is grievously impaired, if the mordente (i.e., a trill with 
the additional note below instead of above) is performed thus- 

after which the ear is forced to accept B as the key-note. Tke feeling of the 
wavering fifths which is required throughout is only made clear by this ren 

It should be noticed moreover that in this fugue too, in bar 19, the pedal, after 
a moderately long pause, enters with notes which only serve to support the 
harmony. Besides the instances of this which have been noticed up to this 
point, this license does not occur at all again in Bach's later organ fugues. 

2 D 2 


of execution. The organ compositions in which this is 
observable constitute even at the present day the most 
brilliant concert-pieces that exist ; and as Bach's technical 
skill has been attained by hardly any one since his time, 
and has certainly never been exceeded, and also because 
they are based upon and grow out of the most exact and 
perfect knowledge of the instrument, their effect when per- 
formed with full command of the technical difficulties is even 
now very powerful nay, often quite colossal, although, it is 
true, not so deep or lasting as that produced by his later 

We will first consider a toccata and fugue in D minor. 90 
This, even without detracting from the greatness or origi- 
nality of his genius, shows in its details many traces of the 
northern school. Thus the form chosen for the toccata 
is not that of Pachelbel, simple and quiet, but the varied, 
agitated form of Buxtehude ; its constituent parts are inter- 
mittent recitative-like passages, broadly sounding chords, 
and running passages on the different manuals, which are 
arranged in contrast. The theme of the fugue is one of 
those of which even Bach is very fond, in which a melody 
is heard through broken harmonies, thus uniting movement 
and repose in a way particularly suited to the organ, and more 
especially effective in the pedal part. The working-out is 
free and fanciful; for long sections the ear, surfeited with 
sound, is carried restlessly along by rocking passages which 
have no connection whatever with the chief idea, which 
appears at the most but once, and is soon suppressed; while 
it is impossible to recognise whether there is a definite 
number of parts or no. The close leads back into a section 
of the same character as the beginning, with organ recitative 
and ponderous, roaring masses of chords ; in bar 137 a figure 
comes in which Bach made the chief groundwork of an 
independent clavier piece, and the reader who cares to 
compare them will not overlook the similarity between the 
formation of certain phrases (e.g., bars 87 ff., 105 ff.), and 
some phrases in the G minor fugue before noticed (p. 401). 

P. S. V., Cah. 4 (7.43^, No. 4. B.-G., XV., p. 267. 


A prelude and fugue in G major will next be considered. 91 
Both are treated at great length ; the first contains fifty- 
eight bars of 3-2 time, and the second, after a transitional 
movement of three bars, 149 bars of common time. The 
chief importance this time lies in the prelude, which is 
founded on a subject treated imitatively and episodically 
with spirit and invention, just as Buxtehude would have 
treated it, only that this is far richer and more beautiful than 
he could have made it. A pedal solo of ten bars, which 
traverses the whole compass of the instrument from top to 
bottom, gives ample opportunity for display either of in- 
dividual execution or of the organ (the pedal in the organ 
of the castle at Weimar was particularly good) ; and yet it 
is legitimately built upon the fundamental theme. After this 
splendid piece there is a falling-off in the fugue which, 
flowing and brilliant as it undoubtedly is, has an animation 
of a more purely external kind, and besides is somewhat 
too long. 

Next comes a prelude and fugue in D major, 92 one of the 
most dazzlingly beautiful of all the master's organ works. 
The prelude, after a few introductory passages and chords, 
works out this subject 

with incessant imitations and episodic prolongations; alia 
breve is written over it, but this direction is not to be under- 
stood of the pace, but rather indicates only the style, which 
is strictly sustained, ornamented with many syncopations, 
and throughout displays full brilliancy of harmony. At bar 
96 there is an interrupted cadence in E minor, from which 
point to the end the treatment is in Buxtehude's manner, 
in free and fanciful harmony, while magnificent power of 
tone is obtained by the bold use of the double pedal. In 
the following fugue, too, the manner of the Liibeck master 
recurs again and again; it has evidently been influenced by 

P. S. V., Cah. 4 (243), No. 2. 

92 p. S. V., Cah. 4 (243), No. 3. B.-G., XV., p. S3. 


a fugue by him in F major, before noticed, the theme of 
which was quoted (p. 272), and near the end, too, by certain 
figures from the fugue in F sharp minor. This is a bravura 
piece from beginning to end, but in the best sense of the word. 
The theme, five bars in length, comes in in semiquavers 
alone, only once interrupted by a daring pause. There is 
not much attempt here at harmonic intensity or ingenious 
interlacing of the parts. Skilful pedal-players will find it 
exactly suited to them, for the theme is quite exceptionally 
fitted for pedal technique. In this whirling dance of notes, 
which becomes madder and madder towards the end, we can 
appreciate the truth of the words in the Necrology : " With 
his two feet he could perform on the pedals passages which 
would be enough to provoke many a skilled clavier-player 
with five fingers." 93 It cannot be doubted that the work was 
composed for a particular occasion, possibly for one of his 
musical tours, and this is confirmed by the title Concertato, 
which occurs in an old MS. of the prelude. 94 It appears, 
moreover, that Bach afterwards clipped the too luxuriant 
growth of brilliant executive passages, and greatly condensed 
the whole, since it also occurs in a form thirty-nine bars 
shorter, which could scarcely have come from any hand but 
that of the composer himself. 95 

In complete contrast with this work is a fugue with a 
prelude, in G minor; 96 the prelude, which in the former 
work had a homogeneous unity, is here without a definite 
thematic germ ; it begins with lovely quietly moving har- 
monic passages, and then chords of the broken up into 
figures of demisemiquavers rise chromatically in steps, each 
lasting for one bar, for the first half of which the seventh is 
always suspended. The fugue, on the other hand, in which, 
in the former work, the passages hurried past with their 
transient brilliancy, is here a well-defined form, full of power, 
depth, and perfect mastery over the materials ; it is indis- 

83 Mizler, Op. Cit., p. 172. 

M See Griepenkerl's Preface to Cah. 4 (243) of Peter's Edition, p. iii. 

95 This differing version is given by Griepenkerl at the beginning of the same 

96 P. S. V., Cah. 3 (242), No. 5. B.-G., XV., p. 112. 


putably the most important of all the works that we have as 
yet examined, and in its pure earnestness seems to prophesy 
of the works of the later Weimar period. To understand the 
advance it marks, it is only necessary to notice how with 
each new entry of the theme a fresher and greater life is 
brought into the counterpoint, how not a single repetition 
occurs which might save trouble of writing, how easily the 
episodes come in, and how strictly the four parts are pre- 
served, except in one place (bar 46). But yet the theme, 
with its " e" flat and d" " four times repeated, and in the 
whole of the fourth bar, has not discarded the type of the 
northern school, and this is my reason for assigning the 
composition to this period. Some other organ works of this 
time must be analysed in another connection. We must 
here pass them over, with the remark that Bach, who was 
fond of remodelling his earlier compositions, sometimes, too, 
combined pieces from them with his later productions. The 
celebrated organ fugue in A minor 97 has a prelude which 
certainly cannot be of the same date, but must have been 
written in the period on which we are now engaged ; this 
will be seen by a glance at its character, which is quite free, 
and hardly at all thematically developed ; in this it agrees 
with the great prelude in C major mentioned above (p. 402). 98 
And Bach went on developing the prelude into organisms 
rich in idea and of stricter character. 

Of great importance to Bach's thorough development as an 
artist was the direction in which he was driven by his post of 
kammermusicus, and in which he had up to this time hardly 
ventured, if indeed it had not remained entirely strange to 
him. Here for the first time he found opportunity for 
making himself thoroughly familiar with the chamber music 
of the Italians. This knowledge was indispensable for any 
man who was to traverse the whole realm of instrumental 
music, and build successfully on that soil. And then the 
Italian nature, so exceptionally gifted with the sense of 
form, had, in music as in the other arts, laid down the prin- 
ciples on which alone a safe superstructure could be built. 

P. S. V., Cah. 2 (241), No. 8. P. S. V., Cah. 4 (243), No. i. 


The art of organ and clavier playing had, it is true, freed 
itself by this time from its influence, and had undergone an 
independent development under conditions of an individual 
and a national kind ; but in violin-playing and music, and in 
all the forms that take their rise from the combined effect 
of several instruments, the preponderance of the Italian 
influence was still widely recognised. The chief forms 
which they had originated were the sonata and the con- 
certo; the former determining the arrangement of separate 
movements in one whole, the latter the formation of a 
single movement. The principle of form in the sonata 
agrees with that in the suite, in so far as that pieces of 
different character are united in suitable succession ; while, 
however, the suite proper was confined to a set of idealised 
dance forms, the sonata is chiefly formed on freely in- 
vented subjects, and yet without absolutely excluding the 
dance forms. The standard characteristic of each is the 
change between slow, sustained, and cantabile movements, 
and those of quick, fugal and ornate character; the so- 
called " church sonatas," which, however, must not be 
confounded with those by Gabrieli, but were only chamber 
music transferred to the church, admitted no dance forms. 
The three-part form of two violins, bass, and a supporting 
cembalo or organ was in great favour ; the judicious Italians 
quickly discovered that a three-part harmony was amply 
sufficient ; it is true that to deal with so thin a body of 
sound required some skill, but it also served to show off 
that skill. The order of the movements was transferred 
from the sonata to the concerto; but while in the former 
there were often four or even more movements, the composer 
of the concerto did not as a rule exceed three, and put the 
slow movement in the middle. 

The form of the separate movements, especially of the first 
and most important, originated directly in the contrast and 
contest between the solo instrument and the whole body of 
sound. A tutti subject as important as possible always 
begins the first movement, and as soon as it stops the solo 
instrument enters in the same key with a new subject of 
greater or less prominence, the contrast often consisting 


merely in the figures employed. This process is repeated 
with modifications and prolongations, and with mutual inter- 
weaving in the keys nearest allied to the principal key. 
Thus the form is still quite distinct from that of the modern 
sonata, in spite of its using two subjects as the corner-stones 
of the development ; it is not evolved from the intrinsic 
nature of the tone system, but superficially constructed by 
the combination of two distinct materials of sound. The 
slow movement gives scope to the player for the display of 
broad tone and tasteful adornments ; it is as a rule short, and 
then the tutti comes back to its allotted task of accompanying, 
but in longer movements it interrupts the free solo passages 
at stated intervals ; or else, by means of a well-marked regular 
bass subject, gives support and connectedness to the whole. 
The last movement is generally in triple time, and of an 
animated and lively character ; its form is either similar to 
that of the first movement, or it is in two sections, in what 
is called "Lied" or song form, with repeats; sometimes 
it is in the form of a gigue or courante, thereby reminding 
us of the suite, or still more by reason of the concerto being 
in three movements of the Scarlatti overture. 

Bach availed himself of the discoveries and acquisitions 
of the Italians, not at first by working in the province to 
which they belonged, but by adapting and transferring 
them to his own especial sphere, that is to say, to the 
organ, the clavier, and the church sonata. He was no 
longer a novice in his art, but a master who had come to a 
perfect knowledge of his powers and aims, and whose keen 
glance immediately recognised the possibility of turning 
these forms to good account. It was not till a long time 
after, so far as we know, that he first turned his attention 
to the sonata and the concerto, and reached the highest 
perfection in those forms. 

The use of instrumental chamber music at the ducal court 
was the more eagerly pursued between the years 1708 and 
1715 because a young nephew of the Duke's, Johann Ernst, 
showed considerable talent for playing the violin and clavier, 
and even for composition. In the two last branches he was 
instructed by Walther, who also wrote for the young Prince 


a compendium of the theory of music, and dedicated it to 
him on March 13, 1701 ; his skill on the violin, his principal 
instrument, he acquired under the direction of Eilenstein, 
his gentleman-in-waiting, and probably afterwards cultivated 
still farther under the influence of Bach. His passion for 
music was so great that when he was ill Walther not 
infrequently had to sit with him throughout the night ; and 
that Bach also was closely connected with the Prince as to 
matters musical, we may conclude from a letter of the master's 
in which he excuses himself for some delay by saying that 
he has had to conduct some musical " functions " at court 
in honour of the Prince's birthday. Walther's instruction in 
composition extending over three-quarters of a year bore 
fruit in the form of nineteen intrumental works ; of these six 
concertos were engraved in copper and published by Georg 
Philipp Telemann. Johann Ernst died young, August i, 
1715, it Frankfort-on-the-Main, in his nineteenth year, and 
his concertos must have appeared the same year the year 
before at the soonest. Telemann was at that time capell- 
meister in Frankfort, but for four years before 1712 he had 
been capell and concertmeister at Eisenach ; he was on very 
friendly terms with Bach, and in consequence of the intimate 
relations between the courts must have been in frequent 
intercourse with Weimar; in 1715 he dedicated to the Prince 
a work consisting of six sonatas for the violin, with clavier 
accompaniment. The ducal compositions seem, in fact, to 
have had some musical merit, for, sixteen years later, 
Mattheson wrote of them as follows : " The famous master, 
Herr Telemann, published some time since six concertos, 
elegantly engraved on copper, composed by the late Prince 
Ernst of Saxe- Weimar with his own hand and of his own 
invention. Of these, Concerto V. is in the key of E major, 
and one of the finest. To find an independent prince who 
writes musical compositions that can be performed is not 
a thing of every-day occurrence; still music gives a man 
particular advantages." 99 

89 Mattheson, Grosse General-Bass-Schule, 1731, p. 409. The matter is 
mentioned with less particulars in the first edition of the work (Exemplarische 
Organisten Probe, 1719, p. 203). Constantin Bellermann says (Parnassus 


The Italians having composed the best violin concertos, 
their favour at court was a foregone conclusion. The 
musicians who surrounded the prince must have been 
interested in them, if only out of respect for him ; but they 
also found ample inducement to a more thorough study of 
them from the artistic point of view, in their lucid forms 
and the simple beauty of their ideas. Walther and Bach 
began to emulate each other in arranging Italian concertos 
so that they might be played on the clavier and organ. 
Walther arranged concertos by Albinoni, Manzia, Gentili, 
Torelli, Taglietti, Gregori, and a few German composers 
thirteen in all for the organ. 100 Bach arranged sixteen 
violin concertos by Vivaldi for the clavier and three for 
the organ, besides setting one of the sixteen a second 
time for the organ. 101 

Vivaldi stands out as one of the most illustrious masters of 
instrumental composition of the beginning of the last century. 
From 1713 he lived in Venice as concertmeister to the 
Ospitale delta Pieta, after having been for some time in the 
service of the Landgrave of Hesse-Darmstadt, and he died 
in 1743. He was an extremely prolific composer, and, as 
has been said, had achieved distinction by the elaboration of 
the concerto. He also wrote concertos for two, three, and 
even four solo violins with accompaniment, he enriched the 
orchestra by the addition of wind instruments, and devoted 
himself generally to the adoption and application of new 
means of musical expression. His great strength lay in the 
treatment of form; his ideas are often flat and insignificant, 

Musarum), in enumerating the potentates who have been musical: " Nee non 
ct Comes de Buckeburg, et Jo. Ernestus Princeps filius Duds Sax. Vinar. qui 
modos musicosfecerunt, hanc Poecilen exornant" 

11)0 These exist in autograph in the Royal Library at Berlin. The two con- 
certos by Albinoni are the fourth and fifth of his Sinfonie e Concerti a cinque, 
due violini, alto, tenore, violoncello e basso, Op. 2. In the Lexicon, Walther 
mentions eleven works by Taglietti, and says they were all published before 
1715. That this year (that of the Prince's death) should recur to his mind in 
writing the Lexicon, conveys an intimation that after that event he ceased to 
occupy himself more particularly with that kind of chamber music. 

101 P. S. I., Cah. 10, and S. V., Cah. 8 (247), Nos. 1-4. See, too, the Editor's 
prefatory notice 


though occasionally full of fire and expression. 102 We could 
only do justice to Bach's method of adaptation of these con- 
certos if the originals were at our command. Only six of 
these have come under my observation. 103 Still, as they 
are all very similar in construction, an average judgment 
of all may be formed from these few. That Bach did 
not mechanically transfer the different parts of Vivaldi's 
score to the double stave of the clavier-player will be 
readily believed; but comparison shows that he not infre- 
quently followed them very exactly, imitating and trans- 
forming them, reproducing as it were the abstract idea of 
the composition, but embodied in the clavier. In the prin- 
cipal themes, of course, for the sake of the whole he could 
alter nothing, and when they were as utterly meagre and 
stiff as the tutti subject of the first movement of the con- 
certo in G (No. 2), he left the responsiblity to the original 
inventor. But by giving more movement to the bass, by 
adding animation to the inner parts, by supplementing the 
solo passages for the violins with counterpoint, by resolu- 
tion of the suspensions, and by paraphrasing certain of the 
violin effects, he has in most cases produced a genuine work 
for the clavier, and at the same time essentially added to 
the musical value of the piece. All his additions occur so 
naturally and inevitably, that the effect is produced of a 
mere flowing and facile transcription, which in itself proves 
that none but a skilled artist could have accomplished it. 

In this G major concerto Vivaldi gives the solo instrument 
the support of two violins, violoncello, and harpsichord con- 
certante; the tutti violins commonly move in unison, while 
the violoncello supports the clavier bass ; the rhythmical 
and harmonic accompaniment, consisting of the simplest 
elements, is almost entirely left to the clavier, and the 

102 Wasielewski, Die Violine und ihre Meister. Leipzig: Breitkopf und Hartel, 
1869, p. 60. 

108 The originals of the first, fifth, and seventh of the clavier arrangements, 
and of the second of the organ arrangements, are to be found in Vivaldi's Most 
Celebrated Concertos, Op. 3 (London: Walsh), as Nos. 5, 7, 12, 3, and 6, The 
original of the second clavier arrangement is No. 2. of Op. 7 ; that of the ninth 
is Stravaganza No. x. 


strings are only brought in for special effects. With subtle 
artistic perception, Bach has reproduced the development 
of the first movement which depends principally on the 
different qualities of the instruments in the unpliant 
material offered by the clavier, by constantly filling up the 
inner parts. The beginning he has left unaltered ; from bar 
46 his transforming hand shows itself in the equally flowing 
quaver bass, instead of the original crotchets with quavers 
intervening in iambic rhythm, and in the connecting semi- 
quavers of bars 59 and 67 ; so also he has set free the violin 
part from bars 60 and 67 in runs of semiquavers, while in 
the original they alternate with quavers in descending skips. 
From bars 76 to 90 high chords in quavers on the tutti 
strings come in with the figure in semiquavers of the solo 
violin ; to indicate this effect of mixed tones Bach has intro- 
duced demisemiquavers. From bar 91 to the end all the 
crotchet and quaver movement for the left hand originated 
with the transcriber; the original composer required merely 
simple chords, and the final passage through three octaves 
is developed from a scale three times repeated within the 
compass of C to c'. The largo (larghetto in the original) is 
almost a new composition ; Vivaldi had written a sostenuto 
air for the violin, proceeding only in crotchets and dotted 
quavers, and as an accompaniment simple chords in 
crotchets. Bach, detecting the ineffective character of such 
a melody on the clavier, worked it up in an arabesque 
movement, supplying the chief notes of the melody with 
incisive trills and mordente ; and he also invented an inde- 
pendent middle part, from whose nobly melodious flow no 
one could believe that it had not formed an integral part 
of the original. In the last movement many portions, more 
particularly of the bass, are newly devised, as in bars 7 and 
8 (and corresponding to them 33, 34, and 35), from bars 21 
to 28, and especially from bars 43 to 49, where the original 
writer contented himself with the most meagre structure 
of chords a mere scaffolding. Bach also made the finale 
richer and more brilliant. 

If we now transfer the practical results of comparison in 
this case to the other adaptations, it cannot be very difficult 


to recognise Bach's share in the work in the general plan, 
excepting of course a residue of uncertainty in the details. 
We see his hand in the easy progression of the bass, the 
melodious middle parts, and in the severer and freer imi- 
tative passages. By these many of the concertos have been 
turned into genuine clavier pieces, to be played with no less 
delight and pleasure than Bach's original creations. And 
this is but natural, since Bach took up the work con amove, 
as is proved by the multiplicity of these arrangements. 
Thus, for instance, the third concerto in D minor must be felt 
to be entirely interesting the adagio really beautiful from 
beginning to end nor must we undervalue the inventive 
genius of the man to whose mind such a melody could occur; 
the swift and rushing presto, with its truly Italian stamp, was 
intensified by Bach by lovely imitations. The eighth concerto 
in B minor appears to owe even more than the others to the 
German master, and to confirm the observation, so easily 
verified, that B minor was his favourite key just as Handel 
preferred F minor and Beethoven C minor. This concerto 
indeed differs from the others in the greater number of its 
movements. The progression in two parts of the first vehe- 
ment allegro beyond a doubt is due to Bach, and the little 
adagio which follows has a remarkably striking effect from 
its thoroughly Bach-like harmonies ; and in the two other 
allegros the hand of the German is perceptible in almost 
every bar. The adagio of the twelfth concerto is conspicuous 
by its harmonic richness, and the melody offering in some 
places an opportunity for imitation in canon, Bach naturally 
at once availed himself of it. Here and there occur certain 
rhythmical " manieren " (i.e., embellishments) as 


deserving of mention, because they were admired as an 
invention of Vivaldi's, and eagerly imitated ; they were called 
" passages in the Lombard style " (" Spielweise im lombard- 
ischen Geschmack"). 

Bach showed his originality even with greater freedom 
in his organ arrangements. If in the transfer of concerted 


music to the clavier an internal development only seems to 
have been introduced, we here find that we have to do with 
an expansion or outward development. This may best be 
seen by a comparison of the first movement of a concerto in 
C major which exists both as adapted to the organ and to 
the clavier. 104 For the organ it contains 81 bars, for the 
clavier only 66. Vivaldi quite clearly indicated the distribu- 
tion of the movements in general ; it is divided into six 
sections, corresponding to the recurrence of the theme for 
tutti, and which follow each other in the keys of G major, 
E minor, D minor, A minor, and finally C major. But at 
the beginning of the second phrase he had introduced the 
germ of a form without maturing it, for the theme, which 
runs as follows 

he immediately repeats in A minor; and not till then are 
the passages combined. 

Bach regarded this impressive modification as worthy to 
be raised from the position of an episode to that of an 
organic feature, by constituting new phrases corresponding 
to it ; and he therefore added two more sections, each begin- 
ning likewise with the modified theme, so that the composition 
ceased to lack roundness and symmetry. The first six bars are 
alike in both works, then the original, as we might fairly call 
the setting for the clavier, passes by a continuous series of 
figures extending through three bars to the second phrase in 
G major, while the organ piece returns to C major, brings 
in the first diminution of the theme, and does not agree 
with the original in getting into G major till sixteen bars 
after. At the twenty-second bar of the original it again 
digresses from the primary arrangement, returns to E 
minor, and here brings in the other phrase with the theme 
in diminution. After reverting to the first modification 

104 P. S. I., Cah. 10 (217), No. 13, and S. V., Cah. 8 (247), No. 4. See App. 
A, No. 19. 


the two arrangements proceed alike with very slight devia- 
tions. But the much greater variety of means in the organ 
involves a quite different handling of the musical ideas ; the 
contrast between the solo and tutti could be represented by 
the alternation of the Oberwerk and the Ruckpositiv ; the 
harmonies could be conveniently supported by the pedal, and 
the figures could consequently move more freely and more 
richly, and in the most suitable position. Many passages 
that were not available for the organ underwent alterations 
for this reason; but, even irrespective of external considera- 
tions, Bach endeavoured to work out everything more fully 
and freshly for this, his own principal instrument, and even the 
theme itself underwent a slight modification that essentially 
improved it. 

The relations which the three other organ concertos 
bear to their prototypes we cannot, it is true, ascertain 
by comparison, but it is certain at least that the character 
of the organ must have involved the same freedom in 
handling the musical ideas. A composition for two solo 
violins supplied the foundation for the second of these ; and 
it is highly interesting to observe how subtly the two con- 
certante instruments are kept distinct from each other, and 
what new effects of sound are thus evolved. The third would 
seem, by the extensive compass through which the con- 
certante parts move, to be derived from a violoncello concerto; 
there are in it a great number of showy passages, particularly 
the extravagantly prolonged cadenzas. 

Bach now began to avail himself of the new form of 
composition, with which he had familiarised himself by 
such energetic study, for his own purposes. It had not 
escaped him that the principle of employing two con- 
trasting themes would be fertile in results, though with 
certain limitations, even in compositions for the organ and 
clavier. The essential condition of music for these instru- 
ments is that it must always be polyphonic ; but since a 
prelude could be placed before a fugue, it was conceivable 
that a piece on the principle of a concerto might be so em- 
ployed ; and, due reference being observed to the character 
of each, an adagio might be not unsuitably placed between 


them. In his Italian concerto, written at a later period, 105 
he proved that under a master-hand the only question is : 
How? but that the form is not perfectly adapted to the 
nature of the instrument is also shown by the fact that 
it remains unique among his compositions. In fact he 
generally remained faithful to the old accredited forms, but 
his powerful imagination was now and then irresistibly 
temptv:d by any other that he could deem justifiable. 

It would seem that the combination of a fugal with a con- 
certo movement had already occupied his attention during 
his years of study ; a composition exists which, from its 
awkwardness in some parts and want of proportion in others, 
can only be the work of a beginner. Being entitled a con- 
certo in C minor, its evident purpose is to give something of 
a concerto effect in the first movement, by the juxtaposition 
of two contrasting groups of notes for they are hardly to 
be called subjects ; these slide off into a series of undis- 
ciplined figures, but towards the close he returns in due 
course to his tutti subject again. Then comes a fugue, very 
freely treated as to its counterpoint and development; in 
this, as in the first movement, we find here and there 
passages which look like badly managed imitations of those 
tutti chords which frequently interrupt the passages given to 
the solo instruments in the adagio movement of a concerto. 
This piece may have originated from some impulse given 
during his first stay in Weimar in 1703 ; at any rate it must 
be referred to the very earliest period of his independent 
efforts. 106 

On the other hand, a toccata and fugue in C major 

105 In Part II. of the " Clavieriibung," B.-G., III., p. 139. 

106 An old MS. copy exists in the possession of Dr. Rust. What Forkel 
says with regard to Bach's first compositions for the clavier answers pretty 
exactly to certain parts of this concerto, so that he perhaps had particular 
instances in his mind. But when he goes on to assert that Bach was reclaimed 
from the unsettled character which he for a time exhibited on the clavier, 
by his study of Vivaldi's works, this may be true as regards that particular class 
of works, of which he perhaps wrote a considerable number at his very earlies^ 
period, but is not so in any general application. Bach had nothing to learn 
from Vivaldi in what concerns the construction of a polyphonous piece. Hence 
Forkel attributes his study of Vivaldi's concertos to a much too early time. 

2 E 


stands out as the work of a consciously constructive artist, 
and these titles are fully justified, for the piece consists of 
three independent movements on the model of the Italian 
concerto. 107 The first begins with a freely designed prelude ; 
an ornate flow of running passages on the manual closing 
with a long pedal solo, foreshadowing the two principal 
motives of the main subject. One of these is the more 
melodic ; the other, as was usual, more ornate. The move- 
ment is developed in alternation between them ; deviating 
completely from the ordinary type of toccata and pre- 
lude, it is altogether concerto-like, but without doing vio- 
lence to the conditions of organ-music ; it is plain that 
here we have no mere imitation, but a masterly adaptation 
of another class of artistic work. The adagio in A minor 
consists of a very beautiful unbroken cantabile, with a per- 
fectly homophonic accompaniment a piece that has no 
fellow in any other of Bach's works, and in which we 
nevertheless feel irresistibly that, though in this particular 
instance the whole work has been composed expressly for 
the organ, the general style of treatment is not of the very 
essence and nature of the organ. The pedal figure, in 
intervals of octaves, carried throughout, and the chords of 
the accompaniment which were to have a manual with soft 
stops to themselves, remind us too vividly of an adagio solo 
with cembalo accompaniment. An organ recitative leads to 
eight bars of harmonic progressions in Buxtehude's manner; 
the last subject consists of a quick fugue in 6-8 time which 
in its theme, with bold effects of pauses with contrapuntal 
passages inserted in them, strongly reminds us of the great 
fugue in D major that I have already described. 

By the side of this piece for the organ, we may set a com- 
position for the harpsichord, also consisting of three move- 
ments 108 ; this likewise has the title of toccata, which in both 
these pieces seems to indicate the final fugue movement by 
which alone it is distinct from the complete concerto form. 
The first bars of the tutti theme are similar in structure to 

107 P. S. V., Cah. 3 (242), No. 8. B.-C., XV., p. 253, 
1( P. Ser. I., Cah. 13 (210), No. 3. 


those at the beginning of the second allegro movement in 
Vivaldi's concerto in B minor, while the elaborate passages 
usual at the beginning do not occur, and the heavy de- 
scending groups of chords for both hands remind us of the 
methods of execution which frequently occur in the tran- 
scriptions of Vivaldi for the clavier. Bars 5 to 7 contain the 
solo response, and the movement develops this in the most 
careful order through five phrases and the following scheme 
of modulation : G major, D major, E minor, B minor, 
G major. The adagio, full of melodic sentiment, is also 
thought out polyphonically with extreme care; this passage 

in particular being imitated in beautiful variety, so that 
German feeling is here amalgamated with Italian form with 
an uncommon and delighful result. How completely this 
was in fact the purpose of the composer is evident from 
his adherence to certain external details for instance, to the 
closing adagio. The conclusion in the fundamental key, and 
then the recommencement in order to attain the suspense 
of a half-close as a preparation for the last movement, is 
altogether in the manner of the Italian composers. Here 
again, the 6-8 time and the cheerful nature of the closing 
fugue, as well as the mocking phrase borrowed from the 
first five notes of the theme, reminds us that it forms the 
close of a composition planned on the lines of the concerto. 
This gay and brightly dancing movement forms an ad- 
mirable contrast to the elegiac character of the adagio, 
and, like the whole work, was written in an hour of happy 

In order to avoid repetition later, mention must here be 
made of yet another composition which, though it certainly 
belongs to a subsequent period, displays in the same way an 
intention of combining the forms of the concerto with the 
fugue. All we know with certainty is that it was written before 
the year 1725 ; and it appears to me by no means impossible 
to show, from internal evidence, that it was probably written 
at any rate in the later years of Bach's residence in 

2 E 2 


Weimar. 109 It consists of a fugue with what is called a 
prelude ; but this prelude is, in fact, a complete movement, 
broadly planned and brilliantly worked-out, on the concerto 
model. That this was Bach's purpose is here particularly 
clearly indicated by the circumstance that in the later years 
of his life he worked up these two movements into a true 
concerto for the flute, violin, and clavier, with an accompani- 
ment, inserting an adagio between them, 110 forming an 
arrangement, it may be added, of really dazzling artistic 
quality and splendour. A fiery, restless stir runs through 
both the movements, and their importance consists in the 
incessant waves of new and spontaneous embellishments, in 
the fulness of the harmonies in short, in the conception of 
the work as a whole, rather than in the form and character 
of the individual motives. That of the tutti passage at 
the beginning is indeed insignificant in itself, but it acts like 
a charm to unloose the spirits of sound ; whenever it is 
repeated new gates seem to open like sluices, from which 
the rushing and sparkling flood pours out. It serves as a 
clue through what seems an endless maze of music. The 
fugue, which demands no less technical skill and " staying 
power" than the first movement, is in 12-16 time, and quite 
keeps up the character of a concerto finale. Indeed, in the 
arrangement, that form is given to it, Bach having devised a 
tutti motive for it; and not only has he inserted this very 
skilfully between the sections of the fugue, but has worked 
them out side by side without any alteration in the original. 
Considering the eagerness with which Bach strove to 
derive all the profit he could from the compositions of the 
Italians, it would have been strange indeed if he had not 
turned his attention to their organ music. Proofs exist of 
his having done so ; and in particular he turned with just 
insight to the works of the illustrious Frescobaldi, a master 
whose writings marked an epoch ; he succeeded in procuring 

109 P. S. I., Cah. 9, No. 2. The piece exists in a MS. by J. P. Kellner, and 
bears the date 1725. It has a rather conspicuous resemblance in feeling to that 
grand fugue in A minor which is to be found in Andreas Bach's book (P. S. I., 
Cah. 4, No. 2). 

11 B.-G. XVII., p. 223. 


a very careful copy of his " Fiori Musicali," composed in 
1635, printed on 104 pages of particularly good paper, in which 
he wrote with his own hand, " J. S. Bach, 1714." m Fresco- 
baldi's importance in the history of fugue is very consider- 
able, although he had already had a remarkable predecessor 
in G. Gabrieli. In Italy the fugue had grown chiefly out of 
the canzone (canzone francese) , which were often played on the 
organ or clavier, and thus served for the first material for 
imitative forms. Thus even in the course of years certain 
rhythmical peculiarities of these chanson melodies remained 
clinging to the fugal theme; for instance, it was usual for 
the first held note to be succeeded by other rapid ones of 
shorter value in a stereotyped form, and not unfrequently 
the first note was several times repeated. 112 

Incited to the task by such examples of Frescobaldi's, Bach 
now wrote a canzone, in which he preserved to the utmost 
the Italian type, though he could not escape infusing his 
own mind into the whole work. 113 No one can fail to feel 
the singular charm of this lovely piece ; even at a superficial 
glance the construction of the theme cannot but be striking, 
and closer observation soon reveals the typical canzone 
rhythm. A second theme, chromatic in structure, is con- 
trasted with the first, and the subject proceeds deliberately, 
strictly in four parts, without any concession to executive 
effect, or any attempt at instrumental brilliancy. After a 
steady course of seventy bars in common time it comes to a 
half-close, and a new section begins in 3-2 time, the prolatio 
perfecta in the terminology of that day. This change of beat, 
well-known in the works of the North German organists, was 
also a common feature with the Italians of the first half of 
the seventeenth century, and appears to have arisen in 

111 This remarkable relic is in the library of the Royal Institute for Sacred 
Music, Berlin. 

112 This interesting observation was first made by Ambros (Geschichte der 
Musik, Vol. III. Breslau, 1868, p. 533). Compare also Vol. II., p. 506. A 
selection from Frescobaldi's Fiori Musicali was published by Commer (Compo- 
sitionem fur die Orgel aus dem XVI., XVII., XVIII. Jahrhundert. Leipzig: 
D. H. Geissler, Part I). Among them are two canzone which enable us to 
make a comparison with Bach. 

P. S. V., Cah. 4, No 10. 


imitation of vocal music, in which Giov. Gabrieli, for in- 
stance, was fond of using it. Nay more ; Frescooaldi had 
already employed that melodic transformation of the theme, 
by altering the time, which had acquired almost the dignity 
of a principle of construction with Buxtehude and some 
others. And thus Bach also made use of the materials of 
the first subject to make a new and highly ingenious one, 
following the rhythm of the canzone in altogether a different 
manner. But a comparison, not with Buxtehude's work 
only, but with the closing movement of one of his own earlier 
works (see ante, p. 321) suffices to show how well aware he 
was of the difference of style which existed between them. 
Here the character is freely and purely musical, there it is 
smooth and sacred, so far as Bach's individuality would 
permit. For he could no more belie his own nature than he 
could ignore the advance of his art ; and his own craving for 
a nobler musical vitality, richer in individual colouring, led 
him in the quicker rhythm of the second section to supply a 
deeper harmony, and to demean himself more boldly in the 
progression of the parts. Nevertheless, a thorough study 
of the details reveals a number of harmonic peculiarities, 
which are best explained as the results of a leaning towards 
Frescobaldi's style ; thus, only to mention one the attacks 
of the theme throughout the first section succeed each other 
exclusively in the principal key of D minor. 

This canzone is not the only one of this character among 
the works of Bach. An alia breve in D major is likewise 
clearly recognisable as being in Frescobaldi's manner, or 
rather in the manner common to the Italian organ composers 
of the period. 114 It is an undivided fugue in an unbroken flow 
of four parts, and the peculiarity of this composition lies in 
the very method of the fugal treatment. The main theme is 
immediately joined by an answering theme which accom- 
panies it for the most part throughout the piece; close 
imitation is employed by preference ; the entrance of the 
theme is but slightly marked, often not at all; the counter- 

114 P. S. V., Cah. 8 (247), No. 6. It is interesting to compare a similar work 
by Pachelbel in Commer, Mus. Sac., I., p. 137. 


point overflowing, as it were, into the theme, which moves in 
the simplest diatonic intervals. All this is calculated not so 
much to preserve the vital and formative power of an in- 
dividually characteristic idea through a series of diversified 
aspects, as to present a grand organic whole, of which the 
fundamental principle is laid on broad, general lines, while 
its progress is always fettered by external conditions or by 
its very essence. That a composer has a perfect right to 
distinguish between the Protestant and Catholic styles, and 
that Bach here felt the distinction, is easily proved by 
comparing this with other pieces for the organ. The 
solemnity of the general effect is farther heightened by the 
breadth given by using nothing quicker than crotchets, and 
by the preparation of the discords, which remind us of the 
old vocal style whose true home was always the Catholic 
Church. But indeed no one but Bach could have written 
this piece ; the very magnitude of it, extending like a vast 
arch, through 197 bars, could hardly have been constructed 
by any other hand ; and then those vigorous introductions 
of new motives, as in the alto part, bars 32 to 46 those 
grand organic superstructures, as the interlude bars 113 to 
134 those imaginative and brilliant series of harmonies! 
Though we may call the canzone a romantic child of Ger- 
man feeling and Italian mould, this alia breve will always 
remind us of a deep blue sky whose image is reflected from 
the calm face of a translucent flood. 

Nor were the writings of Giovanni Legrenzi who lived in 
the second half of the seventeenth century, and was known 
as an eminent organist and composer, and as the teacher of 
the great Venetian Antonio Lotti unknown to the German 
master. This is proved by Bach's having arranged a thema 
by Legrenzi as an organ-fugue. 115 A striking feature in 
this is the constant recurrence of a full close before each 
entrance of the theme, by which it acquires a somewhat 

115 P. S. V., Cah. IV., No. 6. The autograph, which for the present has 
disappeared, did not, according to Griepenkerl, name Legrenzi as the inventor 
of the thema ; but Andreas Bach's MS., a trustworthy authority, has the super- 
scription : Thema Legrenziannm elaboratitm cum subjecto pedaliter. By sub- 
jectum is meant the independent counter-subject; 


fragmentary and short-breathed character, while usually 
Bach devoted so much industrious care to bringing in the 
repetitions of the theme as a surprise or, as it were by 
accident, against the background of continuous sound. 
This and the brilliant display of the close, in the mannei of 
Buxtehude, make it seem probable that the fugue was written 
not later than 1708 or 1709. We must not, however, attribute 
to its early origin the simplification of form to which the 
second theme is subjected in bars 43, 49, 66, 77, and 88 ; at any 
rate this cannot have arisen on technical grounds, since the 
theme is not difficult to perform on the pedal in its proper 
form. The imitative counterpoint at the beginning must 
certainly be referred to Legrenzi ; Bach's own method of 
treatment is only evident from bar 34. The broad independent 
scheme of the double fugue form was new at that time both 
the themes being independently and completely worked out 
before they unite for, though before this the double fugue 
had been preferred to the simpler form, this was not for the 
sake of the greater richness, but for convenience and 
simplicity; the second theme accompanied the first from 
the beginning, like its shadow. Here we have a full and 
mighty organism, whose abundant beauty far outweighs the 
deficiencies we have mentioned. 

From which of Legrenzi's works Bach derived this idea we 
cannot say ; the matter is clearer in the case of three other 
fugues to which certain violin-sonatas by Corelli and Albinoni 
have supplied the themes. Arcangelo Corelli (born 1653, died 
1713) was equally distinguished as a composer and as a player 
and teacher of the violin, and was properly speaking the 
originator of the violin sonata and the head of the Roman 
school of music. Tomaso Albinoni lived about 1700 at 
Venice, a musical dilettante who gained celebrity not only 
as an instrumental composer, but as the author of several 
operas, and as a singer and violinist. Corelli published as opera 
terza twelve sacred sonatas in three parts, of which the fourth 
was considered one of the finest. 116 The second subject is a 
fugue with the following theme : 

Gerber, N. L., I., col. 786. 



_! ! 



^j-^ .-^ 

f~ b 

p-ft * ^ I* X *'* | L- * ,. 

^^ &C ' 

Bach borrowed this for an organ fugue in four parts which 
has nothing in common with Corelli's piece, excepting the 
stretto treatment of the first movement. 117 Though Corelli 
had by the end of thirty-nine bars exhausted all he could 
find to say on the two themes, Bach required more than a 
hundred to develop all the wealth of his flow of ideas. Of 
course he could make no use of the same structural arrange- 
ment as that employed by the Italian. He begins the stretto 
at the seventh bar, and remains constant to this intricate 
form till the very end ; while the German writer, on the con- 
trary, does not adopt this means of enhanced effect till the 
ninetieth bar, and works out the whole spirit of the theme 
fully and freely, grouping and linking the principal phrases 
by means of well-developed episodes. With what special 
ingenuity and facility these are developed is shown in bars 
25 to 30, among others ; here the minims of the first theme 
are steadily taken down by degrees deeper and deeper, while 
above and among them a delightful alternation is worked 
out in semiquavers, and leads gracefully back to the theme 
again. The fact that Bach should have used Corelli's theme 
for the organ especially, probably indicates that the Italian 
use of sacred violin sonatas had been accepted as a custom 
in Weimar. And we shall indeed presently see that he even 
adopted a form borrowed from that type of music in one of 
his cantatas. 

Bach must have had an especial liking for Albinoni's com- 
positions. Even in his later years he was accustomed to use 
bass parts of his for practice in thorough-bass ; and Gerber 
tells us that he had never heard anything more admirable 
than the way in which his father a pupil of Bach's em- 

117 P. S. V., Cah. 4 (243), No. 8. The sonata is to be found in the new edition of 
Corelli's works, by J. Joachim (Denkmaler der Tonkunst, III. Bergedorf bei 
Hamburg, 1871, pp. 142-147). 


ployed these same basses in the manner of his master, and 
that the accompaniments thus worked out were of themselves 
so beautiful that no leading part could add to the charm he 
felt in them. 118 And this is quite in agreement with the fact 
that we possess two fugues in which Bach made more or 
less use of compositions by Albinoni. 119 The Italian pieces 
are in three parts, and Bach's both for the clavier are 
this time the same; thus the scheme is alike in both. The 
first fugue is in A major; 120 Albinoni had considered the 
matter at an end, and thought he had done enough when 
he had supplied one counterpoint to the theme 

which he always repeats exactly in the proper transpositions 
of key. Nor does he trouble himself much with develop- 
ment, and in his piece, which is 48 bars long, he only 
recurs to the theme eight times ; the remainder consists of 
free passages, not always above triviality. Bach could use 
but little out of the whole material of the composition. The 
counterpoint quoted he employed but once, in the first 
entrance of the response, and even there with essential im- 
provement ; afterwards throughout the hundred bars which 
constitute the piece he never recurs to it, as though plainly 
to point the lesson that a regular fugue was something more 
than a series of mechanical transpositions of the parts up- 
wards or downwards that it ought rather to throw off a 
number of new shoots from the same stem. He also bor- 
rowed an idea from a subsidiary phrase in bars 8 and 9 

with which Albinoni could do nothing farther, but which In 
Bach's hands blossoms out into the loveliest episodes (com- 

11 8 Gerber, N. L., I., col. 492. 

119 Both are to be found in the Suonate \ a tre \ doi Violini, e Violoncello \ col 
Basso per I'organo da \ Tomaso Albinoni \ Musico di Viollno diletante Veneto.\ 
Opera f>rima\. They are the two movements of the third and eighth sonatas. 

120 P. S. I., Cah. 13, No. 10 (215, p. 57). Though it also occurs in G major, 
this must be regarded as a transposition. 


p^re bars 24-27 and 44-47). Everything else in this remark- 
ably beautiful composition is original ; a keen freshness like 
that of a fine autumn morning pervades it, and the figures 
flow on as from an inexhaustible fount healing and con- 
solatory. The tempo, given as allegro by Albinoni, must be 
the same in Bach. The richness displayed at the close, with 
the introduction of the pedal, still has a flavour of juvenile 
redundancy ; but it is so completely of a piece with the rest 
that even in later years, as it would seem, the composer made 
no further alterations. In the other fugue in B minor, on the 
contrary, he deemed them necessary, as two rearrangements 
prove. There is in fact a great charm in noting how Bach 
digested in his imagination all the prominent features of the 
work, and here elaborated as it were a new combination of 
the elements, so that they all reappear again in the new 
work, but in a very different and far more effective con- 
nection. 121 A middle passage of the counterpoint of the 
response is more frequently resorted to : 

This, which is the last quaver of the third bar and the first 
half of the following bar in Albinoni, is used by Bach at first 
in bars 12 and 13 of the upper part, in bar 58, and again in 
bars 80 and 81 of the middle part. In the fifth bar this 
passage of three quavers 

repeated in bar 29, is rendered surprisingly expressive by the 
use made of it by Bach in bars 59 and 60 ; it flashes from 
the depth of his soul with a fearful effect. The chromatic 
passage given to the second violin in bar 20 appears in bar 
40 in the clavier fugue, likewise for the middle part, then it 
reappears at bar 50 in the upper part ; a little staccato figure 

121 The second arrangement of Bach's fugue is to be found P. S. I., Cah. 3, 
No. 5 (214, p. 48), the first in the appendix to the samevqlume. Albinom's fugue 
will be given at length in the Musical Supplement to this work. 


in semiquavers from bar 22 slips in lightly and unobserved 
at bar 25 of Bach's work, and maintains its existence for 
some time. The chromatic ascending passages, bar 33, dis- 
tributed between the second and first violins, are distinctly 
introduced as early as bars 14 and 15 in the clavier piece, 
and, after some restless turns in broken and divided semi- 
quavers in bars 34 and 35, are at last worked out completely 
on the high notes. Such a palingenesia is certainly one of 
the rarest phenomena of the world of art ; in it the com- 
poser has so completely assimilated in his own work that 
of another writer, that its farther existence seems thence- 
forth superfluous ; and yet he has produced something so 
fundamentally different that, irrespective of the theme, the 
two compositions can scarcely be compared. 

Still a certain hardness and stiffness clung here and there 
to Bach's first arrangement; 122 the process was not altogether 
perfect till the second was written, when Bach worked only 
upon his own first composition, without any reference to 
Albinoni's. Here all the seams were closed, all the contours 
rounded off, and all the parts were reduced to proportions of 
the most perfect beauty ; at every bar we cannot but admire 
the master's consummate judgment. Consider, for example, 
only the transformation in bar 30 and the way in which its 
counterpart appears in bar 94 ; how in the phrase from 
bar 34 on to the next attack of the theme every part is 
stretched and expanded, while at the same time the chro- 
matic figure of the bass is long drawn-out, like the enfolding 
sheath from which the living germ at last comes forth. 
From bar 68 of the second arrangement the development is 
quite different from that of the first, overflowing those limits 
by a long way, and never receding to a calm till bar 102. The 
general sentiment of this fugue is quite different from that of 
the former one : it floats in that mysterious twilight of feeling 
in which Bach is more at home than any other composer, and 

122 The b' as the third note of the response (bar 3) I regard as an incorrect 
transcript in the written copy for c'fy. There was no reason for altering this 
c'fy which exists in Albinoni, and which Bach himself retains in bars 12, 37, 
and 68, and throughout in the second arrangement ; the b' is a particularly un- 
pleasant discord with c'fy in the counterpoint. 


which evades all verbal expression as completely as a vision. 
The Italian original has nothing of this ; and this radical 
difference would justify us in a corresponding moderation in 
applying the allegro of the Italian fugue to the tempo of 
Bach's. Besides, the second arrangement must certainly 
have been the product of Bach's fullest maturity, for the 
work undoubtedly is one of the master's finest and best. He 
himself had a great preference for it, and added to it, as it 
would seem, a grand imaginative prelude. 128 

When speaking of Job. Adam Reinken and his influence 
on Bach, mention was made of that master's Hortus Musicus 
(see p. 197) . m This work contains six sonatas, each for two 
violins, viola (di-gamba), and basso continue. 125 As they are 
quite on the model of the Italian violin trios, particularly 
Corelli's, we may here discuss them in connection with the 
original Italian music. There are in existence two clavier 
sonatas, in A minor and C major, which have hitherto passed 

123 This prelude, which occurs together with the fugue in two MS. copies, 
has lately been ascribed to Wilhelm Hieronymus, the son of Joh. Pachelbel, 
and it has therefore been suppressed in the Peters edition. It should however 
be restored to Bach, since in what is known as the Fischhoff autograph of the 
first part of the Wohltemperirte Clavier (in the Royal Library at Berlin) after 
the last fugue, the first fourteen and a-half bars of the prelude are written by 
the same hand on the last four staves, with the title " Prcelude di J. S. Bach." 
Even if the Fischhoff autograph is not genuine and I must confess to some 
well-founded suspicions we may credit a very careful copyist of twenty-four 
of Bach's preludes and fugues with having assured himself of the genuineness 
of what he transcribed. 

Hortus Muficus \ recentibus aliquot flofculis \ " SON A TEN \ ALLE- 
Violini, Viola et Ba/o \ continue, confitus \ a \ JOHANNE ADAMO 
REINCKEN Daventrienfe tranfsalano, \ Organi Hamburgenfis ad \ D. 
Catharines celebratijfimi \ Directore " | . Hamburg, no date. Five parts in 
separate score engraved in copper ; folio. The only copy known to me of this 
now very scarce work is in the possession of Professor G. R. Wagener, of 
Marburg. The work has been published by the Maatschappy tot bevordering 
der Toonkunst. 

125 Reinken in each instance has entitled the first Adagio, the second Allegro 
Fuga, and the second Adagio which follows this, the Sonata, combining the 
three under one number ; to the dances which follow he gives a distinct number. 
But as these are always in the same key as the previous movements, and are 
conceived in the same vein, we may be allowed to give the name of Sonata 
unhesitatingly to each set, including the dances, and are supported in doing so 
by the practice of the Italians. 


for Bach's compositions, because in the manuscript, which is 
certainly not his autograph, they are simply designated as 
"di Signer J. S. Bach" A glance at Reinken's Hortus 
Musicus shows us that they are not altogether original com- 
positions by Bach, but clavier arrangements of Reinken's 
first and third sonatas. The first sonata is indeed completely 
preserved in all its parts in the clavier piece ; the third only 
as far as the allemande, inclusive. Nothing can throw a 
clearer light on the sincere sympathy which Bach brought 
to bear on Reinken's music, and nothing can more clearly 
prove a certain intrinsic affinity between the masters, than 
the circumstance that hitherto no one ever had a suspicion 
of their not being genuinely and originally by Bach. The 
material supplied by Reinken has actually become Bach's 
property by his treatment of it, though he has in most 
of the movements done no more than paraphrase them 
more freely and richly in a highly admirable and masterly 
way. Only in the fugues do we see him follow some- 
what the same method, as with Corelli and Albinoni. 
The second movement of the A minor sonata in Reinken 
contains fifty bars, in Bach eighty-five ; the giga of the 
same sonata has nineteen bars in each part in Reinken, in 
Bach thirty. The second movement of the C major sonata 
has in the original forty-seven bars, in the clavier arrange- 
ment ninety-seven. In this latter piece Bach disports himself 
most freely ; he hardly avails himself of anything of his 
predecessor's but the theme. He keeps more closely to the 
structure of the original in the fugue movement of the 
A minor sonata ; particularly in the theme response, which 
he leaves unaltered, excepting the final fifteenth bar, although 
he distributes it differently among the parts and introduces 
very ingenious free interludes. There can hardly be a more 
interesting study than that of the process of modification 
which has here been effected by Bach's genius, by which he 
has produced works which are equal to his finest original 
compositions. We can see at a glance that these arrange- 
ments were not written at this eady period, since Bach 

P. S. I., Cah. 3, Nos. i and 2. 


endeavoured to learn from Reinken in Hamburg. Only a 
man who was himself a master could have allowed himseli 
to undertake such a task, or have brought it to such a 
splendid result. 127 

To conclude the subject of Italian influence, as shown in 
Bach's compositions of this period, we must still mention a 
piece with variations, alia maniera Italiana; these, which 
are arranged for the clavier on a delicious thema in song 
form ("Liedform"), resemble the Italian variations for violin. 
The figures, with hardly an exception worth mentioning, lie 
in the upper part: the bass simply goes on as a support to 
it, though it is not devoid of independent movement ; the 
subject is principally in two parts, and so undoubtedly forms 
a strong contrast to the splendidly harmonised theme, which 
recurs somewhat altered as the last variation. Many pas- 
sages reproduce the style of violin music, no doubt inten- 
tionally, and the modes of execution frequently recur which 
we saw in the arrangement of Vivaldi's concerto. 129 Com- 
pared with the " Goldberg" variations, in the fourth part of 
the "Clavierubung," these certainly fall into the shade; they 
are like neat and delicate pencil drawings by the side of 
richly coloured paintings. But the spark of Bach's fire is 
not wanting ; it glows with intensified strength in the sweet 

127 J. P. Kellner has given us yet another anonymous fugue in B flat major 
which proves to be an arrangement of the first allegro of the second sonata 
from the Hortus Musicus. (See Dorffel's thematic catalogue of Bach's instru- 
mental works, App. I., Ser. I., No. n.) Most probably this arrangement also 
is by Bach. Reinken's Sonata in A minor will be given entire in the musical 
supplement to this work. It will be observed that Bach has disregarded the 
repetition in the second adagio, and he has done the same in the C majoi 
sonata. With regard to the cross x , a sign that constantly recurs, we ma) 
note what Reinken thought proper to prefix as an admonitio to the viola part 
" Si quis forte ignoravit, quidnam simplex x si'bi velit, is sciat tremulum 
signijicare^qui inferne tonum feriat quemadmodum, h<z dnce \\ tremulum notant, 
qui superne tonum contingit." (" If any one be ignorant of the signification 
of the sign x , let him know that it means a trill, in which the note immediately 
below the principal note is used as the assistant grace-note, while these two 
marks || indicate a trill in which the note immediately above is employed.") 

128 P. S. I., Cah. 13, No. 2 (215, p. 12). The number of variations differs in 
the original copies. Andreas Bach, our best authority, has ten. 

129 Compare, for instance, the B minor concerto, No. 8, particularly the 
beginning of it, with Var. g. 


and melancholy theme, which seems to wander like a shade 
through the variations, but blossoms out again in the full 
beauty of intoxicating harmony in the last. 

The third group consists of such instrumental composi- 
tions as do not owe their origin to the influence of Italian 
art, and are intended exclusively for the clavier. Since, as 
has been said before, in the cases where Bach followed the 
Italians, he did so not with the uncertain steps of a novice, 
but with the deliberation of maturity, he could produce, in 
addition to the works we have been enumerating others, of a 
quite different kind, and of a masterly character. In the 
course of our examination of these, elements of French as 
well as of Italian art will several times be observed, the 
employment of which only exemplifies his unfettered control 
of all means and materials. 

Bach begins a small suite in F major with a complete 
overture in the French style. 180 The whole of the little 
composition, which only contains three dance-pieces of the 
most meagre proportions a minuet, a bourree, and a gigue 
acquires a heightened interest when compared with the later 
suites, which are just as remarkable for the boldness and 
ideality of their treatment as this one is for the unpreten- 
tiousness with which it confines itself to the simple dance 
forms. After the overture there follows, by way of interlude, 
an "entree," which was designed to prepare the way for the 
other movements; in character the entree generally was 
similar to the opening movement of the overture, but was in 
two parts, each of which was repeated just as in the present 
case. The most valuable portions of the suite are the 
charming fugue movement of the overture, and the minuet 
with its lovely trio. 

Of the separate clavier fugues one particularly fine one in 
A major must be mentioned before all the others. 181 In out- 
line it bears an unmistakable likeness to the one on a theme 
of Albinoni's in the same key, although in detail it is quite 

P. S. I., Cah. 13, No. 4 (215, p. 27). 
P. S. I., Cah. 13, No. 9 (215, p. 52) 


different to that, both in theme and in construction. From 
bar 35 onwards the development is achieved by the inversion 
of the theme, with which the counter-subject 

is now and then intermingled, after which the two motives are 
ingeniously worked together. At the end there are several of 
those pedal effects which, in their striving after technical dis- 
play, point to a more or less early date of composition. 

Another fugue in A major 132 is of less importance ; in this 
the strettos are hurried and yet slack, both in direct and 
inverted motion, and the theme is answered in bar 3 in such 
a way as to lead us at first to think of E major as the tonic. 
It must have been written at a very much earlier period 
than the others, or else in an unpropitious moment. 

A fugue in A minor 133 in free form, and of an early date, 
has a charmingly arch and playful character; in it we seem to 
hear the elves chattering and tripping to and fro ; it sounds 
like a scherzo of Mendelssohn, anticipated by about a hundred 
years. Another in the same key resembles it in many ways, 
and on that account may have been written about the same 
time, but further chronological testimony is wanting. 134 

We have previously mentioned several independent organ 
preludes. Whether they are really to be considered as in- 
dependent pieces, or as belonging to fugues now lost, it is 
impossible to decide. The first of these hypotheses can be 
asserted with greater certainty of two clavier preludes, which 
have an unusual form that is common to both, and which, 
although they fail to become firm, distinct formations, yet 
reveal a certain condition of mind, dreamy and vague, full 
of passionate longing and unsatisfied aspiration. Until 
evidence to the contrary is produced, I must regard it as ex- 

i 32 P. S. I., Cah. 9, No. 13 (212, p. 66). 

138 P. S. I., Cah. 9, No. 15 (212, p. 70). 

134 In MS. among the legacy of Westphal, now in the Royal Library at Berlin 
(sign. P. 291, 34, piece i). I know nothing against its authenticity. It is still 
unpublished ; its theme is given in the Berlin thematic catalogue of the instru- 
mental works, App. I., p. 19. ' 

2 F 


elusively characteristic of Bach to content himself with sub- 
jective tone-pictures such as these, without intimating the 
connection between individual and general feeling in a piece 
in strict form which should follow ; this characteristic, how- 
ever, is naturally less observable in his more mature years. 
The prototype of such compositions is found in a work for 
the clavier by Georg Bohm before mentioned, in which, it is 
true, the dreamy prelude is followed by a fugue; -but after 
this the character of the beginning is resumed, and the com- 
position dies away in melancholy, murmuring chords. Now 
we know a copy of one of these two preludes by Bach, made 
in the year 1713 by another musician, we may therefore 
suppose the date of composition to be somewhere about the 
year lyio. 185 That the other must be of about the same 
date is probable from the similarity in form, and the fact, 
which may be observed throughout Bach's works, that when 
he essays the employment of a new form, he never contents 
himself with a single attempt, but endeavours to exhaust it 
as far as possible by repeating the experiment. 136 Both 
are lacking in melodic charm, and present only harmonic 
progressions which are strictly confined to a stiff and 
unchanging rhythmical figure. This rhythm indeed divides 
their form into two chief sections, which are limited by 
chords and passages of preparation or cadence. The key of 
the first is C minor, but the entirely subjective character is 
clearly seen in the fact that, except in the first and last 
phrases, the key scarcely makes itself felt at all. Even the 
melancholy arpeggios of the introductory chords lead directly 
into G minor, and in G minor the first chief section begins 

135 The copy is in the Royal Library at Berlin, and has this title : " Jova 
Java | Praeludium ex c dis [= E flat, i.e. in C minor] | di Joh. Seb. Bach.\" 
Below, on the right : "Joh. Ch. Schmidt \ Hartz p. t. org. \ d. g gbr., 1713. | " 
" Hartz " may signify Hartzungensis, Hartzburgensis, Hartzgerodanus, &c. 
I have not succeeded in discovering anything about the writer, who, moreover, 
has copied it very incorrectly. This piece also occurs in Andreas Bach, fol. 71,, 
and 72", carefully written, but without the name of the composer, and in a 
different handwriting from that of the other works of Bach. 

136 The second is published in P. S. I., Cah. 13, No. i (215, p. 5), under 
the title Fantasia, although in two MSS. it also bears the superscription 
" Pratludium" 


I > 


which, by modulations through the allied keys on the full 
subject in E flat major, leads into the second chief section, in 
4-8 time. The semiquavers in the left hand yield to a quaver 
figure, and the upper phrase is replaced first by crotchets, and 
then by quavers intermingled with semiquavers ; at last only 
semiquavers are heard. The close consists of two small epi- 
sodes, in common time and 24-16 respectively, the last of 
which rushes up impetuously with short pedal-points, almost 
entirely on the subdominant, the tonic key recurring for the 
first time with these questioning chords : 

The other prelude is more broadly treated. Its introduction is 
made up of figures in demisemiquavers, and clavier recitatives. 
The first section begins at the fourteenth bar; the rhythm ex- 
presses an inward and ever-increasing restlessness, in accord- 
ance with which the harmonies are worked up from dim regions, 
higher and higher, till they reach their climax in one passion- 
ate outburst (bar 32), and then sink back into the depths. The 
rhythmic figure that pervades the second section is the same 
as that which we noticed at the end of the organ toccata in 
D minor; 137 there it vanished before it was thoroughly played 
out; here it is almost over-exhausted in fifty-two bars. From 
the epilogue (bars 87-106) one passage must be selected of mar- 
vellous effect; after stormy ascending semiquaver passages, 
followed by a short pause, we come suddenly to this : 

3? P. S.. V., Cah. 4 (243), No. 4. 

138 A harmonic progression of exactly similar character occurs in the last of 

2 F 2 


With these two preludes we must contrast four fantasias. 
It is a complete mistake to imagine that Bach signified by 
this name rambling improvisations, to which he was in 
general little addicted. The fantasia, in the sense in which 
he employed the word, comprises regularly constituted forms 
evolved from melodic subjects, and not unfrequently consists 
of such forms alone. The question is quite decided by the 
fact that Bach originally gave this name to his " clavier 
symphonies" 189 in three parts, which are sustained through- 
out in the strictest style ; and this is confirmed by a com- 
parison of his works which have this title. But the op- 
portunity for the free display of an inventive talent is by 
no means entirely cut off; the name seems to be ascribed 
to those pieces whose construction was not perfectly analo- 
gous to the customary forms, but always presented some 
few features of a free character. Such is the case with the 
fantasias under consideration. 

The first, in G minor, 140 is built on three subjects fitting 
into one another, which all admit of double counterpoint on 
the octave ; by means of their transpositions and develop- 
ments the powerful flow of the piece is kept up. In the 
second, in B minor, 141 the first movement is ingeniously 
evolved from the germ 

and the second is freely developed on this subject : 

The third again, in A minor, is different in form. It begins 

the Italian variations (last bar but one) ; a new proof that both works were 
composed at the same period. 

139 In the autograph " Clavier-Biichlein vor Wilhelm Friedemann Bach." 
(" Little Clavier-Book for W. F. Bach.") 

" P. S. I., Cah. 13, No. 5 (215, p. 32). 

141 P. S. I., Cah 13, No. 7 (216, p. 41). I cannot agree altogether with Roitzsch's 
theory that the B minor fantasia was intended for the organ. At the time of 
Bach's maturity and to that time the piece must certainly be assigned the 
employment of isolated pedal-notes, as in bars 15-24, occurs only in clavier 



with a very brilliant toccata-like movement, followed by a 
very lively though somewhat shallow fugue on the theme 


at the end it returns to the toccata, which this time is 
kept up by means of changes in tempo and recitatives* to 
thirty-five bars. 143 

The fourth is the longest and most remarkable of all, and 
displays the most wonderful variety of forms. 148 After a few 
preluding bars the first movement begins in D major on this 


which is at first answered quite regularly on the fifth as if it 
were a fugue, but soon is carried farther and worked out in 
the left hand with free repetitions, while the right has short 
chords, until this group of notes 

interrupts it, forming a new subject, which is continued for 
some time, the quavers being alternately above and below. 
At the thirteenth bar the two groups are set in opposition to 
one another, and from this opposition is evolved all the 
subsequent progress of the piece. It is obvious that the 
concerto form is at the root of this. This is followed by a 
varied adagio movement in true toccata form ; a short phrase 
of four notes is prominent in it, interrupted by tremolos, 

works ; at least, my observations have always led me to this conclusion. The 
light and minute character, too, of the first movement seems to me to be unfitted 
for the organ. 

142 The MS. is in Fischhoff's bequest in the Royal Library in Berlin. 

i P. S. I., Can. 9, No. 3 (211, p. 28). 


leading to figures in bars 4-7, which exactly correspond 
to a passage in the A minor prelude (bars 87 ff.) already 
described (see p. 435), showing that both pieces must have 
been written within a short time of each other. We now come 
to a third movement of more animated form again, which in 
construction exactly resembles the G minor fantasia just 
mentioned ; here also there are three interwoven themes 
arranged in double counterpoint on the octave; by giving 
opportunity for the formation of episodical interludes they 
provide the means for the development of the whole move- 
ment. Their first entrances follow the rule of answering on 
the fifth, so that a regular triple fugue is the result. The 
key of this section was F sharp minor, so the next move- 
ment has to lead gradually back to the original key ; it is 
even more varied than the first interlude, and is full of 
pathetic clavier recitatives (to be played con discrezione, as 
is remarked in some of the manuscripts) and broad uniting 
harmonies; the progression from the A minor prelude, 
which was illustrated above (p. 435) by an example, occurs 
also here (bars 9, 10). At last we come to the concluding 
fugue, in 6-16 time, which flutters away on wings as light 
and airy as those of a butterfly. This last fantasia is in its 
form a combination of the before-mentioned toccatas, in three 
movements, of which the first is in the style of a concerto, 
with another kind of toccata, of which also Bach has left 
several examples. It is called a fantasia undoubtedly be- 
cause it corresponds to neither one model nor the other 

For the proper estimation of Bach's artistic nature it is 
by no means unimportant to observe how, even in a form 
which allows of the most arbitrary formlessness, he en- 
deavoured to construct great organisms in accordance with 
fixed principles, and yet kept them utterly free from eccen- 
tricity. All that he did was controlled by the greatest 
severity of form. And it was for this very reason that, 
when he conceived himself to have hit upon a good scheme 
of form, he sought, by repeating it in another work, to assure 
it to himself anew, and to test the fertility and worth of the 
scheme thus evolved. He did so with the toccata form, 


which has considerable affinity with the D major fantasia. 144 
It is in four movements, of which the second and fourth are 
fugal, while the others are in freer form. 

The toccata in D minor must, according to the tradition 
in the family of Kittel, Bach's pupil, be the master's first 
toccata, and we have no right to doubt the statement. 145 
The first movement is very animated until bar 15, when, 
according to the oldest style of the toccata, it alternates 
with sustained passages in the strictest four-part harmony, 
and full of warm, deep feeling. The second movement con- 
sists of a double fugue, in which the only peculiarity is that 
both themes are almost exactly alike in melody and rhythm, 
the only essential difference being that the first contains a 
skip from d to d', and the second a skip from d' to b' flat. 
What purpose the composer had in this remarkable construc- 
tion, which occurs nowhere else in his instrumental works, 
cannot be imagined; the result is naturally somewhat 
monotonous in effect. The part-writing is in a high degree 
flowing and elegant, with two exceptions, where the inner 
parts are tossed about in an utterly aimless and unmelodic 
manner (bars 10-12 and 73-74). This is followed by an 
adagio of tender, wailing character, founded on a subject of 
one bar long, which wanders restlessly from one key to 

144 I use the simple title " toccata " and " fantasia," for the addition " con 
fuga " has no justification, as all these pieces contain several fugues, and 
indeed appear to be nothing more than introductions to the concluding 
fugue. I am convinced that such was Bach's intention, since, for example, in 
the autograph of the toccata in F sharp minor (which we shall consider further 
on) this is the whole tide. See P. S. I., Cah. 4., No. 4, with Griepenkerl's 

145 A copy which came from Kittel's sale, and appears to be in his writing, is 
in the Royal Library in Berlin, and bears the title : Toccata Prima. ex Clave D. 
b. manuliter. per. J. S. Bachlum. (D. b. signifies D bemol = D minor). By 
the order of the words and the punctuation, prima can only apply to the 
Toccata in general, not to the indication of the key. The work is published in 
P. S. I., Cah. 4., No. 10 (210, p. 68), but in a form which seems to be a second 
recension by the composer himself. The old edition, corrected by C. Czerny, 
and published by C. F. Peters, seems to exhibit the first recension. This follows 
from bars 18 and 19 of the first fugal movement, which are wanting in the present 
edition, and yet are so very necessary for the clear understanding of the de- 
velopment. Czerny's evidence is valuable, while Griepenkerl's omission is 
probably due to a printer's error. 


another, and at bar 25 comes to a standstill on the dominant 
of D minor. The changing of the harmonies is apparently 
the chief object ; it has the effect of giving relief and vigour 
for a new effort, and in the economy of the whole work this 
section holds the same position as do the free interludes 
in Buxtehude's organ fugues, only here there is more con- 
nectedness. The last movement again consists of a double 
fugue, of which the themes 

HB ^=H3 3= 

are certainly petty and unimportant when compared to what 
we have been accustomed to in Bach, and even to the themes 
of the other double fugue of this work. The composer could 
not have made the first working-out follow immediately upon 
the entrances without any episodes had he not intended to 
produce the impression of breathless haste. On the other 
hand he was in danger of entirely stifling the insignificant 
themes by using episodes, so he chose an expedient which 
seems strange, but is justified by the want of definiteness 
in the whole piece, and before the real beginning of the fugue 
he ushers it in with eleven bars of free treatment based on 
the subject material. The themes are given out, and in 
bars 3 and 4 are treated in double counterpoint on the 
octave ; in the remaining bars is stored up the material for 
the episodes. After this the working-out begins, and has 
many beautiful points; but in spite of its 140 bars it shows a 
great want of breadth and fulness. The phrases are all too 
short and breathless, and the themes too are so unfruitful 
.hat one has soon heard enough of them. The constant 
uniform rhythm is also very wearisome. 

Nor is there much more to be said about the second toccata, 
in G